April 22, 2013

Finding safe and effective cures to disease and illness does not have to go against moral and ethical principles; that was the message of a three-day conference at the Vatican on adult stem-cell therapies.

“To address global suffering, one does not have to choose between faith and science,” said Dr. Robin Smith, chairman and CEO of the for-profit NeoStem biopharmaceutical company and president of its nonprofit Stem for Life Foundation.

The two groups helped sponsor the April 11-13 conference together with the Pontifical Council for Culture and its foundation – STOQ International, which is an acronym for Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest.

The groups’ second International Vatican Adult Stem Cell Conference focused on regenerative medicine and how new discoveries are being made for treatments of multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and organ and tissue repair.

Smith told journalists before the conference that the main aim was educating the public about the promises offered by adult stem-cell therapies, “which come with no ethical blemishes.”

“The political arguments that erupted over the last 20 years” over embryonic stem-cell science, “have created great confusion” and “ultimately clouded global awareness of the ethical research” found in adult stem cells, she said.

The Catholic Church opposes any research that harms the human embryo. However, the Church supports research and therapies using adult stem cells, which can develop into a variety of specialized cells, alleviating degenerative illnesses by repairing damaged tissues.