Spinal Confusion

...an attempt to clarify confusing and innacurate information in science articles

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Leonard Zon: SCNT Creates Embryos

Quick background on Leonard Zon:
Dr. Leonard Zon is the founder and director of the Stem Cell Program at Children's Hospital Boston and the first incumbent of the newly established Grousbeck Professor of Pediatrics Chair at Children's. An internationally renowned pediatrician and researcher specializing in blood diseases, Dr. Zon is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, founder and immediate past President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), and Chair of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute's Executive Committee.
It should be fairly evident, based on the positions he holds, that Dr. Zon strongly supports human embryonic stem cell research.

He apeared in a recent Talk of the Nation episode along with three other medical professionals to discuss the embryonic stem cell ballot in Missouri, and research in general.

A segway occurred wherein the discussion turned to how the terminology we use to describe new technologies affects the public's perception and acceptance of said technologies. The example was given of "nuclear magnetic resonance imaging," and how the word nuclear scared people at first. The word was dropped, and today magnetic resonance imaging -- or MRI -- is a fairly routine procedure.

What if the debate could be reframed by removing any reference to the embryo? Dr. Zon responds (at 32:28, if you care to listen).
I'm a little bit concerned about the nomenclature which you bring out, and there was a movement among some researchers actually to call nuclear transfer-embryonic stem cells "pluripotent cells" for just this reason -- they wouldn't be embryonic. I really think that if we're going to be honest with the American public that you do create an embryo during this process.
Will the pro-ESC crazies (i.e., the fascist portion of the pro-ESC movement) now call for Dr. Zon's head?

Only time will tell.