The Vatican has entered into an unusual partnership with a U.S. biotech company to promote the use of adult stem cells for treating disease, rather than focusing research on embryonic stem cells.
The Vatican's culture office and NeoStem Inc., are hosting a three-day conference starting Wednesday on adult stem cells, drawing scientists, patients, biotech CEOs and cardinals together.
Church teaching holds that life begins at conception. As a result, the Vatican opposes embryonic stem cell research because embryos are destroyed in the process.
Adult stem cell transplants have become a standard lifesaving therapy for people with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases. Embryonic cells may be used someday to grow replacement tissue for diseases like Parkinson's.