Exciting new success stories with non-embryonic stem cells have come to light in recent weeks. Unlike embryonic stem cells, which destroy the embryo when harvested, sources of non-embryonic stem cells include bone marrow and umbilical cord blood. The list of potential sources for these non-embryonic stem cells continues to grow as research expands.
In a revolutionary treatment, doctors inserted a genetically engineered stem cell bundle into a stroke victim’s brain. The stem cells were taken from bone marrow, and the bundle was removed after 14 days. During that time, the cells repopulated the damaged area, and the victim regained the ability to speak and the use of his right arm. In a second instance, doctors transfused a child’s own stored umbilical cord blood to treat brain damage incurred at birth. Improvement in the victim’s coordination and concentration were evident just days after the treatment, and the child is now able to attend kindergarten on a regular basis.
Even if embryonic stem cell therapy posed no ethical issues for pro-life supporters, there are compelling utilitarian reasons for preferring non-embryonic stem cell research. No embryonic stem cell treatments have reached clinical trial stage in the U.S. or Europe, despite vast funding. In contrast, the potential of non-embryonic stem cells to treat medical maladies has already been demonstrated in numerous research and clinical applications.
The pro-life movement must be a strong voice to champion non-embryonic stem cell success. While not diminishing the importance of our belief that using embryonic stem cells is ethically wrong, we should also be educating the public about the ethical and practical benefits of non-embryonic stem cell therapy. In an increasingly utilitarian world, our voice might carry farther if we, too, get excited about ethically acceptable stem cell success.