Immortal Cells Spawn Ethical Concerns

Science  18 Dec 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5397, pp. 2161
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5397.2161

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Developmental biologists grabbed headlines this year by growing a kind of human embryonic cell that can be coaxed to become many different types of human tissue. The work, which starts with cells from human embryos, may lead to safer tissue transplants, but it also fired up a debate about the ethics of using embryos in research. Coming on the heels of Dolly, the cloned sheep and 1997's Breakthrough of the Year, the research offers another dramatic example of how rapid scientific progress is ushering in a new era of control over human reproduction and development--and sparking a host of new ethical questions for a largely unprepared public.