Posted by: matt25 | March 18, 2013

Stem Cell Discovery

I frequently find that when the issue of science in general, and stem cells in particular, comes up many people, even many Catholics, do not understand that the Church is not against them. It is in favor of them when tempered according to ethical principals founded upon a respect for life and and right relationship between creation and it’s creator. Fifty years ago Vatican II spoke to this in the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world.

Rightful Autonomy of Earthly Affairs 36. Many of our contemporaries seem to fear that a close association between human activity and religion win endanger the autonomy of… science. If by the autonomy of earthly affairs is meant the gradual discovery, utilization and ordering of the laws and values of matter and society, then the demand for autonomy is perfectly in order… By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws. These, as the methods proper to every science and technique must be respected. Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigators of the secrets of nature are being led, as it were, by the hand of God, even unawares, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are. We cannot but deplore certain attitudes, not unknown among Christians, deriving from a shortsighted view of the rightful autonomy of science; they have occasioned conflict and controversy and have misled many into opposing faith and science. However, if by the term “the autonomy of earthy affairs”‘ is meant that material being does not depend on God and that humanity can use it as if it had no relation to its creator, then the falsity of such a claim will be obvious to anyone who believes in God. Without a creator there can be no creature. In any case, believers, no matter what their religion, have always recognized the voice and the revelation of God in the language of creatures. Besides, once God is forgotten, the creature itself is left in darkness

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But, I was going to tell you about an exciting new development in “ethical” stem cell research that does not require the destruction of a life and the relegation of human beings to the equivalent of raw material which has no more value than the chemicals we are made of. So here you go! From the good folks at BioEdge

Rare stem cells extracted from adult breast tissue are pluripotent and can become most cell types, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco have found.

When the cells were put either in mice, or in cell culture, the cells could differentiate to produce multiple cell types, including those that proceed to make heart, intestine, brain, pancreas and even cartilage. It was previously thought that there were no pluripotent cells in the body after the embryonic stage of human development.

While a therapeutic use of the cells has yet to be determined, they could potentially generate new tissue – a “patch kit” – to heal wounds or reconstruct damaged or missing organs. They also could be used as a resource to study how cells become pluripotent, and how they repair and replace themselves.

The scientists are currently searching for the rare cells in other organs of the body. They hypothesize that these “universal patch kits” are scattered throughout the body of adult men and women. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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