MENLO PARK, Calif. — Even as a federal agency gave a California biotech firm the go-ahead to begin the first human trials of therapy employing human embryonic stem cells, a federal court approved a pro-life legal action that could lead to blocking President Obama’s promised expansion of federal funding for research using these cells.
Geron Corp. of Menlo Park, Calif., is seeking people paralyzed by spinal injuries to be the first human test subjects for the clinical use of human embryonic stem cells, which some scientists say is dangerous, wasteful of taxpayers’ dollars and unethical.
Stem cells are undifferentiated, primitive cells that have the ability both to multiply and to differentiate into specific blood cells and other cell/tissue types. This ability allows them replace dead or defective cells and/or tissues.
Embryonic stem-cell research, which involves the killing of a unique human being in an attempt to cure different diseases, has proven not only lethal and costly, but has not produced a single cure. On the other hand, adult stem-cell research, which utilizes cells from adult tissues or umbilical cords, does not require the taking of human life. It has proven successful in treating more than 70 kinds of cancers and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
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