British Government Opens National Stem Cell Research Bank

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 23, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 23, 2004

London, England ( — Though embryonic stem cells have yet to cure a single patient after more than two decades of research, the British government has opened a national stem cell bank to promote research using the cells from human embryos. Pro-life groups object to the practice.

"The government is committed to stem cell research because we believe it has tremendous potential. We expect to bring breakthroughs in the understanding and treatment of disease," Health Minister Lord Norman Warner said at the press conference to open the facility.

The stem cell bank will store and grow embryonic stem cells harvested by destroying unborn children in their earliest days. The cells will be distributed to scientists and researchers across the globe.

The first two lines of embryonic stem cells to be deposited come from researchers at King’s College London and the Center for Life in Newcastle.

Pro-life groups oppose the use of embryonic stem cell research and the storage of the cells at the bank.

Patrick Cusworth, a spokesman for the British pro-life group LIFE told the Associated Press that research with cells from unborn children is "unethical, unnecessary and dangerous."

"The practice of creating human embryos for destructive research is immoral for two reasons," Cusworth said. "First, it reduces human life to little more than a pharmaceutical product and secondly, it holds out false hopes of cures for sufferers of debilitating conditions."

The stem cell bank will also accept adult stem cells, which are less controversial and have already produced treatments for dozens of diseases and ailments.

Meanwhile, Sir Chris Evans, millionaire founder of Merlin Biosciences, a large European venture capital firm that specializes in scientific pursuits, wants to raise $150 million to make sure any therapies developed from the stem cells are manufactured in Britain.

Britain was the first country to authorize human cloning to create embryos for scientific research.

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