If potential parents decide against having more children, scientists working with stem cells might ask them to consider donating the unneeded embryos to research.
In the most controversial method, scientists can also pull stem cells from aborted fetuses, first asking for signed consent from a patient whod previously (and independently) decided to terminate her pregnancy.
"To realize the promise of novel cell-based therapies for such pervasive and debilitating diseases, scientists must be able to manipulate stem cells so that they possess the necessary characteristics for successful differentiation, transplantation, and engraftment. The following is a list of steps in successful cell-based treatments that scientists will have to learn to control to bring such treatments to the clinic. To be useful for transplant purposes, stem cells must be reproducibly made to:
To summarize, stem cells offer exciting promise for future therapies, but significant technical hurdles remain that will only be overcome through years of intensive research."
(Stem cell research, of course, will continue on some level no matter what the President decides; private foundations, clinics, and drug companies are unaffected by government funding).
Revelations that scientists at a privately-funded Virginia fertility clinic are growing human embryos with the intent of harvesting stem cells have provoked widespread hand-wringing, among both advocates and opponents of stem cell research.
Until very recently, the vast majority of stem cells used in research came from discarded (or excess) embryos stored at in-vitro fertilization clinics.
The complexity and drama surrounding these relatively simple cells has increased due a ticking clock: By the end of the month, President Bush is scheduled to decide whether to continue federal funding for stem cell research.
Advocates worry that publicizing such a blatant and systematic cell harvesting procedure can only harden hearts against the science; in the crude terms of public relations, using stem cells from discarded embryos is one thing, but purposefully creating an embryo only to dismantle it is something else altogether.