BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO PLACENTAL TISSUE AND CELL RESEARCH
What is at Stake?
Embryonic stem cell research offers the promise of curing many serious
illnesses, including juvenile diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal
cord injury, because the stem cells can be grown into a variety of
However, critics have long maintained that the
use of embryonic stem cells is morally wrong because it often requires
the destruction of embryos to produce the stem cells. In 2001,
the Bush administration put the brakes on further federal funding of
embryonic stem cell research. As a result, much of the current
embryonic stem cell research is taking place in the private sector,
proceeding at a slower pace than if federal monies were available.
Beyond the Impasse
Placental tissue and cells, the material which is typically discarded
following birth, offers a potential avenue of moving beyond the
impasse over stem cells.
One company on the cutting edge of this research,
Plureon, has developed a line of stem cells from medical discarded
placental tissue, thus resolving potential moral issues associated
with stem cell research. Plureon is in the research stage, and
their new line of cells has been effective in curing certain diseases
in small animals. Their goal is to develop therapies for humans,
and they are seeking FDA approval.