April 12, 2024

Kass endorses “third way” for embryonic stem cell research

The US Senate should support funding for alternative sources of embryonic stem cells, argues Dr Leon Kass, the head of the President’s Council on Bioethics. Writing in the Washington Post, he pleads with both sides in the acrimonious debate over embryo research to look seriously at the possibility of “ethically unproblematic” but scientifically useful embryonic stem cells.

He is particularly encouraged by the recent development of a technique called cell fusion, in which an adult cell is fused with an existing embryonic stem cell. “Other avenues to adult cell reprogramming and other alternative sources are being pursued in the laboratory, though still with no concrete results. The creative search for alternatives has only just begun in earnest.”

Dr Kass believes that it might be possible to sidestep moral dilemmas with new techniques. “It may be that some opponents of embryo research are using these worthy proposals for such a political purpose. It may be that some scientists, for their own political purposes, are decrying the new approaches, despite the exciting new evidence. But every public-spirited American should be encouraged by these findings. We should be hopeful that a technological solution to our moral dilemma might soon be found and that this divisive piece of our recent political history will soon come to an end.”