East Texas Doctors Weigh Stem Cell Debate - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/19/06-Tyler

East Texas Doctors Weigh Stem Cell Debate

They're cells that have the amazing property of self-renewal -- these stem cells. They can grow new tissue to replace damaged tissue.

"Information is that [stem cells] can make paralyzed mice walk, and [if] this approach is that effective, it bears some scrutiny," says Dr. Steven Idell, a professor and Vice President for Research at UT Health Center at Tyler.

Idell speaks of embryonic cells, taken from the earliest stages of cell growth. They are described as a "blank slate."

"Because of their potential to become entirely new tissues, they offer advantages," Idell says.

But would that destroy life?

Dr. Charles Gordon, a Tyler neurologist believes so.

"I think that value is not at all justified by the price that you would pay," he says, agreeing there's the promise of dream treatments and cures.

However as a Christian, he believes life begins at the earliest.

"Life begins when the information from a sperm and an egg come together to form a viable embryo, and I believe that viable embryo deserves to be protected. We all started that way," he says.

Idell and researcher Mark Atkinson say that they're not taking a stand on the debate on federal funding, as UT Health Center doesn't conduct research on stem cells. But they both believe years of research would be likely to produce results.

"It holds incredible promises for for new treatments for diseases that have plagued mankind for hundreds of years," Atkinson says.

Gordon believes those embryos that might be used for research, are children, wanted by couples who can't conceive.

"Those embryos can be put up for adoption, and there's a large group of people who would love to have those babies," he says.

Reported by Morgan Palmer, morganpalmer@kltv.com.

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