October 15, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – Catholic leaders in Europe hailed the decision to give a Nobel Prize to two pioneers of adult stem-cell research as a triumph for ethics.

A statement from the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, known as COMECE, said awarding the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine to John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka represented an "important milestone" in recognizing the superior potential of adult stem-cell research over destructive experimentation on human embryonic stem cells.

The Anscombe Bioethics Centre, an institute serving the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland, also described the award as an "achievement of great ethical significance."

"This technique offers hope of progress in stem-cell research without relying on the unethical destruction of human embryos," said David Jones, director of the Anscombe Centre in Oxford, England.

"This is science at its best: both beautiful and ethical."

The Nobel committee said England's Gurdon and Yamanaka of Japan had "revolutionized" science through their work.

Both scientists were involved in research into changing mature cells into stem cells, which have the potential to become specialist organ cells and be harvested in the potential treatment of a variety of diseases.

Many hope such work may prepare the ground for therapies to repair heart tissue after heart attacks, for instance, or to reverse the progress of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.