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Cell Prolif. 2008 Feb;41 Suppl 1:57-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2184.2008.00483.x.

The importance of valid disclosures in the human embryonic stem cell research debate.

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Programs in Regenerative Biology and Cancer, Boston Biomedical Research Institute, Watertown, MA 02472, USA.


Misinformation erodes the legitimacy of any public debate. Since the start of human embryonic stem cell research deliberations in the USA, misinformation concerning the nature of human embryos, their availability for research, and the potential for using them to develop new medical therapies have been widespread and persistent. Basic facts, well understood by physicians and biologists, have been so misstated and misrepresented in the news media and political speeches that the general public has been put in a state of constant uncertainty. The solution to the present troubling condition is better education in the form of diligent, honest, and complete scientific disclosure by responsible scientists and physicians; and more care given to accurate reporting by news media. Several key aspects of newly emerging embryonic and non-embryonic stem cell technologies are defined and discussed as they relate to the debate over the use of human embryos for medical research. An important topic for consideration is how to disclose with clarity the scientific basis for human embryonic life. Thereafter, failings in proposed technologies for developing new therapies with human embryonic stem cells, that have been grossly under-reported, are examined. Finally, properties of adult stem cells are presented in contradistinction to embryonic stem cells, both in terms of adult stem cells as a scientifically better alternative to embryonic stem cells and in terms of the technological challenges that must be overcome to realize the potential of adult stem cells for new medical therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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