University of Michigan Researchers Create First Embryonic Stem Cell Line

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 4, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

University of Michigan Researchers Create First Embryonic Stem Cell Line

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 4
, 2010

Detroit, MI ( — Researchers from the University of Michigan have created the first embryonic stem cell line developed in the state and the line is making news as Detroit hosts the World Stem Cell Summit. However, a pro-life group is disappointed by the news because the obtaining of the cells came at the death of an unborn child.

Scientist Gary Smith, who derived the line, told the Detroit News that the establishment of the line of human embryonic cells is a "big step forward" because other researchers can work with them.

However, he admitted it is a long way from establishing the line to curing diseases — if that ever happens because the use of embryonic stem cells in animals still causes the development of tumors and the cells are rejected by the immune system.

The human being who was destroyed for is or her stem cells is known as UM4-6, implying there are more people who were killed at the very earliest stages of their lives to establish the stem cell line.

The cell line joins approximately 76 other embryonic stem cell lines creating by other researchers. It could be approved by the National Institutes of Health, a process which would take months, and placed in the national registry with lines from Harvard and the New York University School of Medicine — making it so the embryonic stem cells could be used on a national level and not just in Michigan.

The human embryo destroyed for her stem cells was donated by a couple who had remaining embryos after going through in-vitro fertilization, which upsets Right to Life of Michigan.

Officials from the pro-life group noted the University of Michigan press release touting the creation of Michigan’s first embryonic stem cell line doesn’t mention how many human embryos were killed to get this one stem cell line.

The press release does say it took "several attempts," meaning several human beings were killed in order to obtain this stem cell line. Based on previous attempts to create embryonic stem cell lines by other institutions such as the University of Wisconsin and the Jones Institute, researchers likely killed between 4-10 human embryos, the group told today.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, "While we knew University of Michigan researchers were planning on killing human embryos for their cells, we are saddened to know that human beings were sacrificed without their consent for this unproven research."

"It is wrong to kill some human beings in the vague hope of treating others. There are many life-affirming alternatives to embryonic stem cell research, it is dishonorable that some researchers in Michigan feel they have to destroy human lives," Listing added.

She noted the irony that human "embryos who do not have a voice are human enough for experimentation, but not human enough to be given a chance at life."

The University of Michigan has also been able to create induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells — cells which have the same properties as embryonic stem cells, but don’t require the destruction of human embryos. Right to Life of Michigan hopes the university moves more in that direction.

To date, human embryonic stem cells have never been successfully used to treat human patients.

Related web sites:
Right to Life of Michigan –


Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.