Stem-cell collaboration

Scientific analysisThe church often gets labeled as being against science because of its opposition to embryonic stem-cell research. Few realize the church is actually a strong supporter of stem-cell research, just not the kind that destroys nascent human life.

A recent announcement by an international biopharmaceutical company and the Pontifical Council for Culture demonstrates the church’s commitment to advance ethical research.

Foundations affiliated with NeoStem and the Vatican agency — whose foundation has made an initial $1 million commitment to the venture — will work together to educate people around the world about the benefits of adult stem-cell research to treat disease and alleviate suffering.

Plans are to sponsor an international conference on adult stem-cell research at the Vatican in 2011. The Vatican and NeoStem also hope to develop educational programs, publications and academic courses to address the scientific, theological and philosophical questions surrounding stem-cell research, according to a Catholic News Service story.

“We want to be able to deliver to our pastors, to our bishops, information that will help them respond to the bioethical questions raised by Catholics at the local level,” said Father Tomasz Trafny, an official with the culture council. “We need to understand the technologies, the science, many things, in order to know what kinds of answers we need to provide for them.”

NeoStem holds exclusive worldwide rights to VSEL (very small embryonic-like) stem-cell technology. According to the CNS story, Dr. Robin Smith, chair and chief executive of NeoStem, said the technology has the potential of achieving “the positive benefits associated with embryonic stem cells without the ethical or moral dilemmas as well as other negative effects associated with embryonic stem cells.”

This initiative is one way the church is walking its talk on ethical research. We need more like this.

About Joe Towalski

Editor of The Catholic Spirit, husband, dad, baseball fan(atic), astronomy buff. Follow me on Twitter @towalskij

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