Monday, February 12, 2007

On The Other Hand: Embryonic stem cell pioneer says cures likely decades away

The scientist whose group took part in groundbreaking embryonic stem cell research in 1998 says cures using embryonic stem cells are likely decades away.

University of Wisconsin scientist James Thomson made the comments during a speech Feb. 8 in Lake Delton, Wis., to the Wisconsin Newspaper Association's annual convention, the Associated Press reported. In 1998, Thomson's team became the first group to grow human embryonic stem cells in culture, sparking a controversy over the use of embryos in stem cell research that continues to this day.

Although some supporters of embryonic stem cell research have implied cures are just around the corner, Thomson cautioned that cures probably are decades away, AP said. While Thomson believes researchers will learn how to grow embryonic stem cells into various forms of body tissue and organs within a decade, he also thinks safety concerns will delay cures for humans, AP reported.

“I don’t want to sound too pessimistic because this is all doable, but it’s going to be very hard,” Thomson told convention attendees, according to the Associated Press. “Ultimately, those transplantation therapies should work but it’s likely to take a long time.”

Among the obstacles, Thomson said, scientists still must learn how to grow the stem cells into the body's different types of tissues and organs, AP said. Another obstacle, he said, is preventing cancer from growing during transplantation.
[....snip] LifeDigest, Baptist Press News

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