NRL News

Ethical Stem Cells Into Human Kidneys

by | Dec 16, 2013


By Wesley J. Smith

Pro-Life President George W. Bush

Pro-Life President George W. Bush

I credit President Bush’s embryonic stem cell policy for the amazing advances we are seeing with induced pluripotent stem cells, e.g., stem cells made from skin.

Not directly. But indirectly. Bush’s policy kept the entire world focused on the moral value of the embryo, and as a partial consequence, had scientists scurrying to find ways that would obtain the hoped-for benefits of ESCR [embryonic stem cell research] but without destroying human life.

Indeed, without Bush’s policy, I think scientists would have been chasing ESCR and human cloning down what have turned out to be (so far) box canyons, perhaps to the detriment of the kinds of advances we are seeing now, 12+ years after the Bush policy was announced.

Agree or disagree with my opinion, there is no denying the hope we now have thanks to ethical stem cell research: IPSCs have been used to fashion human kidneys in the lab. From the Telegraph story:

“Scientists in Australia have grown the world’s first kidney from stem cells – a tiny organ which could eventually help to reduce the wait for transplants. The breakthrough, published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, followed years of research and involved the transformation of human skin cells into an organoid – a functioning “mini-kidney” with a width of only a few millimetres.

“Scientists are hoping to increase the size of future kidneys and believe the resulting organs will boost research and allow cheaper, faster testing of drugs. Within the next three to five years, the artificial organs could be used to allow doctors to repair damaged kidneys within the body, rather than letting diseases develop before proceeding with a transplant.

“’This is the first time anybody has managed to direct stem cells into the functional units of a kidney,’ Professor Brandon Wainwright, from the University of Queensland, told The Telegraph.”

From their lips, to You Know Who’s ears!

There is still much work to do, of course. And no guarantees. But how different these concrete experimental successes in ethical research have been from the false CURES! CURES! CURES! embryonic stem cell hype of ten years ago.

And Bush had it right. I love irony!

Editor’s note. This appeared at

Categories: Adult Stem Cells