Monday, October 8, 2012

Nobel Peace Prize - Thank You, Embryonic Stem Cell Opponents!

Now, here's a funny thing.

Did you guys hear about the latest Nobel Peace Prize awards? If not, here's a link.

Some relevant quotes:

Two scientists from different generations won the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday for the groundbreaking discovery that cells in the body can be reprogrammed to become completely different kinds, potentially opening the door to growing customized tissues for treatments.

Basically, their work paved the way to making the equivalent of embryonic stem cells without the ethical questions the embryonic cells pose.
So hey, great news, right? The work of these guys can in principle completely obviate the need for, uh... killing infants and harvesting their flesh for precious resources. Kind of a big deal.

But here's where it gets interesting.

Yamanaka deserves extra credit for overcoming fierce objections to the creation of embryos for research, reviving the field, said Julian Savulescu, director of Oxford University's Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.
"Yamanaka has taken people's ethical concerns seriously about embryo research and modified the trajectory of research into a path that is acceptable for all," Savulescu said. "He deserves not only a Nobel Prize for Medicine, but a Nobel Prize for Ethics."
He does indeed. And hey, it's nice to see A) a Nobel being given for this, and B) for it being noted that his Nobel, in part, is being delivered because it runs around the very ethical problems that were being presented.

But keep this in mind. Originally, opponents to embryonic stem cell research were accused of 'getting in the way of science' and holding back cures. Instead, it looks like their opposition led to research that not only circumvents the ethical objections, but was Nobel worthy.

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