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Virgin Stem Cells


Richard Branson, the man behind Virgin Atlantic and assorted other Virgin-branded companies, is going into the stem cell storage business. His new company, to be launched tomorrow, will store umbilical cord blood stem cells (obtained after birth, without raising ethical concerns) for parents who hope they might someday be therapeutically useful for a member of the family. This Times article does its best to rustle up some controversy, but its assertion that “some anti-abortion groups believe that any use of stem cells will lead to human cloning” is just plain bonkers. No anti-abortion group opposes the use of umbilical cord blood cells. The “controversy” such as it is has to do with whether there ought to be private banks of such cells or only government-run public ones. Some European countries, not surprisingly, have opted to permit only public banks. The British (and the US) permit both.  


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