Science 1 January 2010:
Vol. 327. no. 5961, p. 25
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NEWS OF THE WEEK
Embryo Ruling Keeps Stem Cell Research Legal
A ruling from the Irish Supreme Court has reignited that country’s debate over the legal status of human embryos, confirming the legality of research with human embryonic stem cells but leaving such work in a regulatory limbo that may not be resolved soon. On 15 December, the court ruled that human embryos outside the womb are not “unborn” and therefore are not protected under the country’s constitution. The case before the court, in which a woman wanted to implant frozen embryos against the wishes of her estranged husband, does not directly involve stem cell research, but an opposite ruling could have made such work unconstitutional.
The great hope, for Ireland and elsewhere, is the realization that ESC technology, now 28 years old has not even come close to making it past animal trials, as these cells are too prone to developing tumors. Cash-strapped governments (Obama notwithstanding) will increasingly cast a favorable eye on adult stem cells, as ASC technology has already yielded hundreds of applications in human therapeutics.
It’s tragic to see Ireland, the bastion of Catholic fidelity, descend into the abortion quagmire.