British Destroy Human Lives to Create Embryonic Stem Cell Bank

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 19, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Destroy Human Lives to Create Embryonic Stem Cell Bank

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
May 19, 2004

London, England ( — The world’s first stem cell bank opened Wednesday in Hertfordshire, England, raising concerns that the still-fruitless pursuit of miracle cures will continue to take human lives.

Located at the National Institutes for Biological Standards and Control at Potters Bar, the bank is expected by supporters to house tens of thousands of stem cell lines, derived from donated embryos, aborted babies, and adult stem cells such as those found in umbilical cord blood.

Pro-life advocates have concerns only with the embryonic stem cells, as unborn children in their earliest days of life must be destroyed for the cells nucleus to be transplanted in the cloning process.

The bank will be funded jointly by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and was started with a £40 million grant.

Currently only two stem cell lines have been deposited in the bank, both derived from donated embryos from couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization.

Similar lines developed from human embryos at Harvard and by the National Institute of Health in the U.S. They have been considered unusable, as they are prone to cancer and age too rapidly.

LIFE spokesman, Patrick Cusworth, spokesman for LIFE, the UK’s largest pro-life organization, said the use of human embryonic stem cells "reduces human life to little more than a pharmaceutical product."

"Experiments using adult stem cells, that is, stem cells taken from various sources in the patient’s own body, and cells taken from discarded umbilical cords, have already proved remarkably effective," added Cusworth.

"For example, in one such experiment using adult stem cells Parkinson’s disease was improved by 81% in a human patient — surely the most promising breakthrough since the condition was first diagnosed. In contrast, experiments using embryonic stem cells have proved disastrous, as they produce an extraordinarily high rate of tumors," Cusworth explained. "One study has estimated the tumor formation using embryonic stem cells is between 75 and 100 percent.

"Stem cells taken from embryos could prove to be devastating if used upon human patients," added Cusworth.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) agreed.

"It is a day of shame for Britain that we as a nation are leading the way in an area of science that disregards the most fundamental of human rights, the right to life," a spokeswoman for the pro-life group stated. "SPUC gives wholehearted support to ethical research using adult stem cells which already offers genuine promise to those suffering from debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes. Killing embryos has yet to provide any benefit."

In 2001, the U.K. Parliament voted to allow so-called "therapeutic cloning" or research involving the cloning and creation of human life. The European Parliament voted last year consider a wholesale ban on cloning including the "clone and kill" research.

In the U.S., President Bush has prohibited federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, but several states, notably California and New Jersey, have passed legislation supporting the research.

Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, and North Dakota have all enacted wholesale bans on human cloning and the House of Representatives has passed a federal version of the legislation.

Currently New Jersey has the most extreme pro-cloning legislation in effect, allowing for the cloning, implantation, and destruction of human life from the embryonic through the newborn stages of prenatal development.

Related Sites:
Society for the Protection of Unborn Children –