Rome, Nov. 14, 2001
Research and use of stem cells
do not require the destruction of human embryos, affirmed a
number of renowned scientists, doctors, theologians, philosophers, and experts in
bioethics at a two-day meeting.
Their closed-door session took place
as European countries prepare to legislate on the use of
The meeting was organized by the Swiss Guilé
Foundation, the Department of Biochemistry of the Francisco de Vitoria
University Center of Madrid, and by the School of Bioethics
of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, which hosted the initiative.
Both Francisco de Vitoria and the Regina Apostolorum are operated
by the Legion of Christ.
During a press conference, participant scientists
and bioethicists explained that stem cells taken from the umbilical
cord, the placenta, or adult individuals are giving extraordinary results
in medical research.
Esmail D. Zanjani, of the Department of
Medicine and Physiology of the University of Nevada, explained that
research using sheep has given satisfactory results for the treatment
of illnesses such as thalassemia. Given their plasticity, stem cells
are also very effective in treating heart problems and damaged
Zanjani said that adult stem cells have been used
in these experiments, which have also proved effective in the
production of specific proteins for the functioning of the human
In this connection, Salvatore Mancuso, director of the Institute
of Gynecology of Rome´s Gemelli Hospital, referred to a surprising
discovery: The unborn transmits his own stem cells to the
mother, when she needs these to repair organs or to
support her immune system.
Asked by journalists about the use
of embryos to extract stem cells, Mónica López Barahona, of
the School of Biochemistry of Francisco de Vitoria, said: "It
is unacceptable to think of developing an embryo to take
his cells and then destroy him."
López emphasized that, from the
scientific point of view, it is clear that the embryo
is a human person from the moment of conception and,
therefore, it is ethically unacceptable to use a human life
even to save that of others.
Father Gonzalo Miranda, dean
of the Regina Apostolorum School of Bioethics, recalled the words
of the Nuremberg war-crimes court: "Never again will the use
of human beings in medical research be authorized."
Copyright 2001, Innovative
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