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63% Favor Embryonic Stem Cell Studies

Americans Say Both Embryonic, Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Research Needed
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 20, 2007 -- Sixty-three percent of Americans say that despite recent breakthroughs in non-embryonic stem cells, embryonic stem cell research is still needed.

Embryonic stem cells have the extraordinary ability to become any cell in the body, with huge potential for therapeutic use. A recent breakthrough allows scientists to reprogram adult cells to become embryo-like stem cells, although hurdles remain to therapeutic use of these cells.

Some have heralded this breakthrough as an end to the moral dilemma of destroying human embryos -- even those created in the laboratory with no chance of becoming fetuses. Should such research stop?

Not yet, say 63% of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults in a poll by Virginia Commonwealth University. The poll has an error margin of plus or minus 3%.

Nearly 40% of those polled had heard of the new research. But even when told about it, a large majority of Americans said both embryonic and non-embryonic stem cell research should continue. Only 22% said embryonic stem cell research is no longer necessary.

However, a smaller number of Americans -- 54% -- said they "strongly" or "somewhat" favor embryonic stem cell research.

In other survey findings:

  • 47% of Americans favor -- and 47% oppose -- using cloning techniques to develop new medical treatments.
  • If not restricted to therapeutic cloning, 81% of Americans oppose use of human cloning technology.
  • 62% of Americans support use of animals for medical research; 35% oppose it.
  • While 51% of Americans say scientific decisions should be based on analyzing the risks and benefits involved, 63% of Americans say researchers don't pay enough attention to the moral values of society.

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