TORONTO, November 21, 2007 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today welcomed the announcement of new techniques in stem cell technology that make it possible to recreate human embryonic cells from the skin and give them the power to become any cell in the human body. Researchers hope the technique will herald effective treatments for a wide range of conditions, including the effects of strokes and Parkinson’s Disease.

The new techniques, unveiled Tuesday by teams in Japan and the U.S, are seen as a major leap forward for the controversial field of regenerative medicine, even though the research is still at an early stage. It holds out the promise of turning a scrape of cells from inside the cheek into embryonic-like cells that can be used to repair almost any part of the body. There would be no need to destroy days-old human embryos, until now the principal source of the “pluripotent” cells which can morph into any of the 200 different cell types in the body.

While there are undoubtedly problems to be worked out with any new medical technology, this advance will free a great many more people, from scientists and doctors to patients, to get involved with stem cell research and therapy. The use of skin cells, in principle, raises few if any ethical questions. Significant scientific progress is being achieved without the sacrifice of human life.

The development, combined with the reality that virtually all successful stem cell therapies now in use involve adult cells, will, the League hopes, lead to the elimination of the use of aborted and cloned embryos in stem cell research.

Bioethicists and pro-life activists welcomed the new technique, which alleviates concerns about exploiting women for their eggs, as well as the destruction of human embryos. Clarification may still be required on the ethical status of the “embryonic-like” life created.

Detailed report on this new technology.

About CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244;