ACT’s Robert Lanza Has Betrayed Science

This is a partial transcript of a podcast aired by Nature. It is an interview with Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology. (You can hear it for yourself, here.) In it, he clearly claims to have taken one cell from an embryo and derived ES cells without destroying the embryo–when of course all the embryos were destroyed and most of the cells used to create the stem cell lines.

This can no longer be interpreted as bad writing or the use of vague verbiage. This amounts to active misrepresentation of the result of an experiment–aimed at an audience made up primarily of scientists. Such dishonesty must never be forgotten:

First, to introduce the podcast, Lanza tells the listener what he claims to have accomplished (all italics are my emphasis):

Robert Lanza: What we have done, for the first time is to actually create human embryonic stem cells, without destroying the embryo itself.”

This is false, of course. During the interview, an earlier statement by Lanza is played that describes–I assume accurately–how the researcher’s team had previously derived mouse ES cells using one cell taken from an early embryo:

Robert Lanza: We have shown that you can generate embryonic stem cells, using a method that does not interfere with the developmental potential of the embryo, and we have actually done this in the mouse model. It will take up to a year, or possibly longer before we can repeat this in humans. Of course we won’t know for sure, until we do the experiments.”

Then, the interview pivots to the current human experimentation that made so much “news,” and Lanza clearly states that his team accomplished the same breakthrough in humans that they did previously in mice–when they absolutely did not:

Chris Smith: He collected single cells from early stage mouse embryos, and then used those cells to produce pools of stem cells, but most importantly the donor embryos weren’t harmed in the process, and the same trick could be used with cells collected from early human embryos, for the purposes of PGD, or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Well, that work has now been completed, and earlier this week Robert told me what he’s found.

Robert Lanza: We have shown that we can not only generate stem cells without destroying the embryo, but that the remaining embryo also has the potential to go on to create a healthy hatching blastocyst.

Chris Smith: How is that achieved, Robert?

Robert Lanza: Well, what we’re actually doing is removing a single cell from an eight-cell stage embryo, and then we actually culture that cell in the Petri dish, and are actually able, though various manipulations, to create stable embryonic stem cell lines.“…

Chris Smith: And do they appease President Bush’s objection to the fact that you’re destroying life, to create or further life, with traditional technology?

Robert Lanza: Well, as you know, the president objects to the fact that you would be sacrificing one life to save another, and in this instance there is no harm to the embryo that we’re biopsying.

As we all now know, this is pure balderdash, and seemingly an intentional and material misrepresentation of what the experiment accomplished. Shame on Robert Lanza.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More