December 27, 2005


Dying patients 'can aid stem cell research' (The Guardian, December 27th, 2005)

Professor Ian Wilmut, creator of Dolly the sheep, today said experimental stem cell therapy should be carried out on terminally ill patients to speed up the pace of research. Posted by Peter Burnet at December 27, 2005 6:55 PM

All of Mengele's patients were terminal.

Posted by: oj at December 27, 2005 9:38 PM

The patients receive treatment that is related to their affliction, and has at least some promise of amelioration based on theory or observation, even if it hasn't been verified to the degree medical science would like.

Whereas it seems here that a blanket 'stem cell' experiment could be run that has no intersection at all with the patient's disease....

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at December 27, 2005 9:54 PM

Immorality is about you treating someone without the dignity God granted them, not about your victim's state of mind.

Posted by: oj at December 28, 2005 7:40 AM

Both the treatment itself is immoral--where it involves embryonic cells--and the exploitation of the weak is immoral.

Posted by: oj at December 28, 2005 8:04 AM


First of all, he does not seem to be talking about experimental research directed towards saving any particular patient's life. He is talking about using the terminally ill as a class as guinea pigs to "speed up the pace of resarch", with the obligatory vague promise of other lives saved sometime in the future. We are invited to assume on faith that the research is sound, health-directed and promising and well-worth whatever consequences befall his lab rats.

As to informed consent, we've been there many times in discussions on euthanasia and removing life-support. If you recall, Terri Schiavo's "informed consent" was some off-hand remarks she made leaving a theatre in her healthy youth. Your stalwart, stoic hero who willingly sacrifices for future generations undoubtedly does exist, but for the most part "freely given informed consent" is just modern newspeak for getting rid of the dependent or, in this case, using them to advance scientific careers.

Posted by: Peter B at December 28, 2005 8:13 AM

Ah, so you trust these monsters who view humans as guinea pigs not to prey on the weak and to only test the type of stuff you bpersonally approve of?

Posted by: oj at December 28, 2005 8:42 AM

How is offering the chance of life to a dying patient exploiting the weak

Talk about red herrings!

bplus, why do you think he wants to use the dying? Why not a general call to the population at large for volunteers?

Posted by: Peter B at December 28, 2005 8:44 AM

how about this, we treat terminal patients with kindness and compassion, make their last days and hours as good as possible, and leave the heavy lifting to those better equipped to perform it.

or, we could go the palistinian way and strap bombs to the terminally ill, give money to their families, and send them off as shock troops.

Posted by: jack the k at December 28, 2005 10:36 AM

"bio-ethics" is an oxymoron. science is amoral.

Posted by: samuel toe at December 28, 2005 10:37 AM

I'm no science guy (I majored in Liberal "You want fries with that?" Arts) but it seems to me that terminally ill patients would make rather poor subjects for testing. There's no control. Is your drug making them worse? Or is it the disease doing it? Have they merely entered a period of temporary remission or is it beneficial effects of the drug?

Posted by: Bryan at December 28, 2005 12:37 PM

Easy to get their consent though--they're desperate and depressed.

Posted by: oj at December 28, 2005 12:43 PM

ALL new drugs, treatments, therapies and techniques require human testing before they can be approved by the FDA.

Again, almost all of the clinical trials require some a priori evidence that they will have efficacy in the treatment of a _specific disease_ (i.e., will amerliorate depression, or cancer, or diabetes, etc.). A blanket grant for tinkering is not done to my knowledge. Bryan also makes an excellent point about control groups.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at December 28, 2005 3:11 PM


He's not addressing any particular illness nor the sufferers of any particular illness. He is saying "the dying" as a class should be available to promote "scientific research".

BTW, this from the article:

"I've come across people who have neuro-degenerative disease who face a steady, slow decline and premature death, a very unpleasant situation.

So, are you saying people with neuro-degenerative diseases can give informed consent? Or is a general authorization signed on the back of a driver's license in good health years earlier sufficient? And while we are at it, what exactly is a "terminal Alzeimer's patient"?

Posted by: Peter B at December 28, 2005 3:13 PM

it has been documented that people with the organ donor cards are not given the same intensity of attention, as non-donors. nice.

Posted by: jack the k at December 28, 2005 5:04 PM