The Vatican is sponsoring a three-day conference starting Wednesday set to analyze the scientific and ethical implications of using adult stem cells to cure diseases.
"Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture” is hosted by The Pontifical Council and United States biotech company, NeoStem.
The conference is said to bring together theologians, physicians and philosophers, along with people who have been treated with stem cells. The Vatican’s mission is to find companies willing to focus on methods of stem cell extraction that would not destroy human embryos.
On Tuesday, two representatives of the Vatican, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and Father Tomasz Trafny, talked about the upcoming conference at a meeting with Dr. Robin L. Smith, CEO of NeoStem and former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, according to the Associated Press.
Thompson shared the issue of stem cell research was the source of much debate and discussion between the religious and scientific community, but developments in recent times have shown it is possible to create adult stem cells without destroying human embryos.
He also said stem cells offer "the divine wisdom inside of us to supercharge our bodies and go down that road to try to wipe away disease."
A topic for discussion was also the financial implications of such research. Thompson offered diabetes as an example of a disease costing much money for governments, citing statistics that point to one in eight people in the U.S. suffering either from type 1 or type 2.
Diabetes management costs almost $200 billion annually. A cure, Thompson said, would cut those costs instead of spending money to manage it.
NeoStem, based in New York, also commented on their partnership with the Vatican, sharing in a statement from their website.
“We believe that the Vatican’s choice to partner with NeoStem in its first commercial collaboration to advance adult stem cell research and therapy development demonstrates its acceptance and support of adult stem cells and will significantly contribute to accelerating stem cell-based regenerative medicine therapies and that their support will add significant value to our shareholders,” stated NeoStem.
Rev. Trafny, who is the head of the science department in the Vatican’s culture office, explained the Vatican’s collaboration with NeoStem corresponds with the Church’s initiative to make sure research is focused on adult stem cells alone.