UK Prelates Back Preaching With Pounds

Give Grant for Adult Stem Cell Research

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LONDON, MAY 19, 2008 ( Catholic leaders are doing more than preaching about the need to focus on adult stem cell research in lieu of destroying human embryos. They are offering a grant to a new research foundation.

The presidents of the episcopal conferences of England & Wales, Scotland and Ireland announced Sunday the award of a £25,000 ($48,945) grant, funded from a special Day for Life collection, as a sign of their support for adult stem cell research in the United Kingdom.

The donation has been made to Novussanguis, an international research consortium on cord blood and adult stem cells for therapeutic aims that was launched in Paris on Wednesday.

"We support scientific research that seeks to cure disease and suffering," said the council presidents. The statement was signed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster; Cardinal Keith O'Brien, archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh; and Cardinal Sean Brady, archbishop of Armagh.

Noting that there has been a focus on embryonic stem cell research, the cardinals explained that "much greater progress has already been made towards clinical therapies using adult stem cells. Other emerging techniques hold potential for good, without creating and destroying human embryos. We are making this donation as a sign of the Church's commitment to science and human good."

Mentioning ongoing debate about the issue in the United Kingdom, the prelates said there are "profound questions both about the scientific efficacy of proposed techniques and their ethical justification."

"In particular," they wrote, "we would ask what ethical considerations should limit bio-medical research; should the government be taking the dramatic step of legalizing research on cybrid or hybrid embryos just as new techniques are emerging which would make the use of such hybrids in research redundant; [and] to what extent is the U.K. in danger of neglecting more promising therapies by focusing too much on embryonic stem cell research?"

"Not nearly enough time has been given to discussing these issues," the prelates affirmed, "and these questions require answers before and not after legislation."

Novussanguis is an international research consortium on cord blood and adult stem cells for therapeutic aims

Colin McGuckin and the research group on cord blood at Newcastle University and the Foundation Jérôme Lejeune in Paris founded Novussanguis to promote responsible research on cord blood and adult stem cells.