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A 3D-rendered medically-accurate illustration of a human fetus in the 20th week of gestation (photo: SciePro / Shutterstock.com)

COMMENTARY: How do we benefit from fetal tissue research while simultaneously opposing it?

By Stacy Trasancos, National Catholic Register, January 25, 2021

Stacy TrasancosAs the COVID-19 vaccine emerged last November and debates about the morality of benefiting from medicines developed using fetal cell lines ensued, groundbreaking reports of the development of a comprehensive human fetal cell atlas also made news. Catholics face an ethical dilemma. How do we benefit from fetal tissue research while simultaneously opposing it?

The Science of Single-Cell Transcriptomics

To understand the ethical impact, the science needs to be explained. Biomedical advances are happening fast. According to Science journal readers, the winning scientific breakthrough of 2018 was a combination of techniques that allows scientists to track embryo development at the molecular level. From the first cell divisions after fertilization, stem cells begin differentiating into the embryotic body. The diversification of cell lines is the result of the genetic instructions in individual cells, but how individual cells are activated by surrounding cells and environmental factors as a single cell becomes an entire organism is not well understood.  …