Skip to content

Information and Resources

Abortion Debate Clouds Future of Stem Cell Research

Stem Cell Dilemmas

continued...

Under a National Institutes of Health guideline that was finalized last year, stem cell studies can proceed as long as they use embryos originally intended for in vitro fertilization that were going to be discarded anyway. However, a highly placed government source tells WebMD that so far, there have been no applications for stem cell grants, even though the money is available.

The speculation is that researchers are taking a wait and see attitude before committing to complex and controversial experiments that could be canceled. Meanwhile, John Gearhart, PhD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and a pioneering stem cell researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, is watching the situation carefully.

"'Concerned' is a fair statement. I think that there's been a great deal of work and effort to position guidelines that are workable," Gearhart tells WebMD. Gearhart agrees the technology needs oversight, but some of the most egregious potential abuses, like selling embryos, are already outlawed.

Meanwhile, earlier this week Britain's House of Lords voted to allow limited cloning of human embryos to produce stem cells, in spite of vigorous objections from religious leaders. That follows a similar approval from the lower House of Commons last year. Now England could move ahead in this competitive technology.

"Falling behind other research enterprises in this field -- I hope that doesn't happen," says Hendrix.

Though stem cells have detractors, they also have powerful backers, like diabetic Mary Tyler Moore and Parkinson's patient Michael J. Fox. Their voices have already been heard in the debate. So may the chorus of countless others who suffer from heart disease, stroke, and paralyzing diseases.

1|2

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
feet
Solutions for 19 types.
Woman running
Boost Your Metabolism.
build a better butt
How to build a better butt.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
young woman in sun
What to watch for.
brain scan with soda
Tips to kick the habit.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
stressed working woman
And how to fix them?
fat caliper
Check your BMI.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
man with indigestion
How to keep yours at bay.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.