Well, today was certainly an interesting one. Hot on the heels of the recent report in the Lancet about how cells derived from embryonic stem cells have safely integrated into the maculae of patients with macular degeneration, I was on BBC Radio Ulster defending the ethics. Quick summary - these cells were injected into the eyes of patients with degenerative disorders of the retina; the cells have integrated, and are apparently functioning well. This is exciting and promising research, for people with visual disorders, and many other degenerative conditions.
I think Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR) is a highly ethical avenue of research, but my opponent thinks otherwise. She is Josephine Quintavalle from a lobby group called "Comment on Reproductive Ethics" (CoRE); they take a fairly hard-line embryo-is-a-full-human-person tack, pretty much in accordance with the official position of the Roman Catholic Church (which I find wholly ridiculous, but I may post on that some other time).We had a very polite discussion, expertly chaired by the indomitable William Crawley, but I'll leave the listener to decide whether I did a good job or not.
In retrospect, I wonder if I should have been a little more aggressive. The arguments against ESCR are pretty weak, and are based around a fundamental misunderstanding (or downgrading) of what it means to be a human person.
Anyway, have a listen - our bit starts at about 33 minutes: http://t.co/V0Rr94dP
Please leave any comments below - I would love to hear 'em.