Reading2 - E D I TO R I A L 2007 Nature Publishing Group http/www.nature.com/natureneuroscience Shaky arguments against stem cells Recent attempts

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NATURE NEUROSCIENCE VOLUME 10 | NUMBER 4 | APRIL 2007 393 EDITORIAL Shaky arguments against stem cells Recent attempts to use scientific findings to discredit embryonic stem cell research are distorting the state of the field. L ast year’s midterm elections shifted the balance in the US Congress in favor of proponents of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research, suggesting that many citizens are not convinced by the moral argument that all human embryos (including those abandoned and indefinitely frozen in fertility clinics) are sacrosanct and may not be destroyed for any reason. In an attempt to find new arguments against hESC research, the opponents are now trying to spin science—both its problems and successes—to fit an anti-scientific purpose. A prime example is the recent piece innocently titled “What We Know about Embryonic Stem Cells” in the conservative Roman Catholic magazine First Things (http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_ article=5420). The article, which was written by Maureen Condic, Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah, does not mention the fundamental moral arguments that underlie Catholic opposition to hESC research. Instead, Condic lists the practical difficulties of stem cell science, arguing that these are so severe as to be insurmountable. She is correct in asserting that there are formidable hurdles to overcome before hESCs might serve thera- peutic purposes. Major problems include the low survival rates of transplanted stem cells in vivo , as well as the dangers of severe immune
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