The ice bucket challenge has been an amazing success for the effort to raise funds for ALS research. There have been hilarious videos produced. I have noticed that many of the videos involve families and friends. The ALS Association has raised, as of August 21, $41.8 million. The same period last year less than $2 million was raised.
I have read from a few resources that pro-life groups are alarmed, because the ALS association utilizes embryonic stem cell research. I do not want to support and encourage research that purposefully destroys embryos. So I have looked into the ALS Association use of funds. They have found greater success and more significant strides utilizing adult stem cells that were formed from skin cells. They do currently participate in a research project that utilized embryonic stem cells. What is interesting is that this line of embryonic stem cell research does not involve the ongoing killing of embryos. Their research involves an already existing line of stem cells, and they appear to have no plans to begin any new studies utilizing embryonic stem cells.
I have found that the moral objection to embryos being destroyed for research pushed research towards the use of Adults stem cells. At first this push may have seemed like a compromise that required research to go backwards. Yet the results demonstrate that greater success is being found with the adult stem cell research.
Below is a quote from a Religion News Service interview with Carrie Munk.
Carrie Munk, a spokeswoman for the ALS Association, said that the organization primarily funds adult stem cell research. “Currently, The Association is funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC), and the stem cell line was established many years ago under ethical guidelines set by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS); this research is funded by one specific donor, who is committed to this area of research,” she said. “The project is in its final phase and will come to an end very soon.”
Some have suggested that embryonic stem cell research could eventually be phased out by other, less controversial research.
“Many labs have replaced ESCs with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells),” Munk said. “These iPS cells begin as adult human skin cells but are then reprogrammed to become stem cells, which are then ready to become other cells types.”
Since this research utilizes a previously existing stem cell line and there are no plans for more embryos to be destroyed to support this research, the ALS Association is an organization I could support. If you are still concerned, but want to join in the fun viral experience, consider supporting the research at the Mayo Clinic that utilizes only adults stem cells.