Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winner of Nobel prize, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka

No need to harvest human embryos in the name of advancing medical breakthroughs.  England's Sir John Gurdon and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka from Japan share the 2012 Nobel Prize in medicine for work on stem cells, revealing that mature cells can be reverted into primitive cells. There are both medical and ethical implications.

“The Nobel committee, however, made no mention of Yamanaka’s moral achievement. Not in its presentation, not in its press release, not in its interview with the laureate. It credited him only with developing “new tools” to study disease and develop therapies. Many reporters took the same approach. In its 600-word story, CNN ignored the ethics of Yamanaka’s work. The Los Angeles Times called restrictions on embryo destruction mere “headaches” for scientists. The New York Times said Yamanaka’s work, like other stem-cell technologies, had “generated objections from people who fear, on ethical or religious grounds, that scientists are pressing too far into nature’s mysteries and the ability to create life artificially.”

That’s completely wrong. Even before Yamanaka’s landmark paper, pro-lifers were all over his work. They loved it. The Vatican had followed his research with interest for years. When Cell published his paper, a pro-life coalition immediately declared his method “superior to cloning as a means of obtaining patient-specific pluripotent stem cells.” In a homily distributed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Rigali declared that Yamanaka’s story about looking into a fertility-clinic microscope showed how “God can use a helpless embryo to change a human heart.” People at the National Right to Life Committee were openly rooting for Yamanaka to win a Nobel.”

"When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters. I thought, we can't keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way," this was Dr Shinya Yamanaka, a father of two, in an interview in The New York Times in 2007.

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