St. Louis Public Radio News
6:30 am
Mon March 9, 2009

Researchers express mixed feelings about embryonic stem cell research funding

St. Louis, MO –

A St. Louis researcher says President Obama's decision to permit federal funding of embryonic stem cell research means embryos will be destroyed unnecessarily.

Dr. Richard Chole of Washington University says adult stem cells can be used instead. He says transforming adult cells should be the focus of future research.

"You take a cell from a person's body like a skin cell, modify the gene and then make it into a stem cell that can then be very useful for transplantation and for therapeutics. So, I think the scientific world has left the idea of destroying human embryos behind."

Chole and other opponents of embryonic stem cell research say conducting research with cells taken from embryos destroys human life. Supporters say embryos not used for research are discarded anyway.

Dr. Steven Teitelbaum, also of Washington University, says embryos do not contain developed organs and should not be considered human life. He says scientists must be able to explore all avenues of research.

"The most important rule of science is you cannot predict it. What we should have is a circumstance in which we let 100 flowers bloom and we test all forms of stem cells."

Teitelbaum says the decision to federally fund embryonic stem cell research could affect millions of people suffering from ailments like Parkinson's disease, diabetes and spinal cord injuries.