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The recent International Society for Stem Cell Research meeting held in Boston included a plenary address by Dr. Zernicka-Goetz in which she stated, "we can create human embryo-like models by the reprogramming of (embryonic stem) cells." Father Tad weighs in on the ethical implications of alternative pathways to producing "synthetic" human embryos. He notes a number of particular problems, including that these embryos were developed from stem cells, which were originally obtained by destroying a human embryo so there already exists an inherent ethical problem at the origin of this new technology. Furthermore, defining whether these are "synthetic" or "real" embryos is tricky since although they may not develop through to adulthood, they may in fact be "real" with defects that limit their developmental capacity. As such, there is a danger in manipulating human persons for research purposes. Father Tad urges researchers to: "first, avoid all human embryonic stem cells in their research; and second, study synthetic embryos only in non-human animals." 


Read the Our Sunday Visitor News article here 



See related columns from Father Tad on this topic:

What About Synthetic Embryos?

"The 14-Day Rule,"

"The Catholic Church and New Bioethical Questions," and

"Cures from Embryonic Stem Cells?