Dr. David Prentice on Embracing Ethical New Technologies
Some scientists have said one reason they don’t consult bioethicists or think about the ethical implications of their research is because ethicists usually say “no” to new technologies, or that ethics is arbitrary. But what they are really avoiding is the necessity of setting rational limits on science, thinking they can thereby avoid any limits on their work. Limits that protect all human beings, even nascent human life, are not arbitrary and actually say “yes” to some exciting—and ethical—applications of new technologies.
Adult stem cell research is one of those areas that emphatically says “yes” to new technology. While often derided as insufficient by those who promote embryo-destructive research, adult stem cells already have a proven track record of success. They can be obtained without harm to the donor (unlike embryonic stem cells or fetal tissue which rely on destruction of the donor) and are the true gold standard of stem cells when it comes to development of successful therapies for patients. Cutting-edge research that can and does lead to new treatments for previously-intractable conditions is a hallmark of adult stem cell studies.