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Ethics of stem-cell research explored at medical seminar
8 August 2001

 Six experts discussed controversial issues in biomedical research at the inaugural medical seminar of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center (KFSHRC) on Monday night.

Topics covered included embryonic stem cell research and its grave ethical implications.

Dr. Sultan Bahabri, chief executive officer at KFSHRC — who initiated the seminar by posing the question “Does it deserve all this heated debate?” — said the hospital’s research center aimed to have the technology and expertise that would compare with the best worldwide.

The hospital’s scientific research will help generate a debate on issues confronting the medical fraternity as well as the general public.

Dr. Essam Al-Sabban, executive director at the hospital’s research center, explained that it has spent a great deal of time in establishing a strong infrastructure and support system.

“It now collaborates with the Boston-based Center for Integrated Medical Innovative Technology, part of MIT, and this has helped it lay down a clear-cut strategy for our research work,” Dr. Al-Sabban added.

The research center has already undertaken clinical research into the treatment of stroke. “We can now treat a stroke victim within three to six hours of the attack occurring. Previously, delays meant that while some stroke victims recovered, many more became paralyzed,” the hospital official added.

All medical research is being conducted at the hospital under the direct supervision of advisory committees.

“KFSH is already at the top of the pyramid in terms of health care, both in the Kingdom and regionally. This will have a direct bearing on the health care of 1.5 billion Muslims, and we make sure that we strictly adhere to Shariah,” Dr. Al-Sabban added.

Expressing concerns about biomedical research, Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Bar, professor of Islamic medicine at the King Abdul Aziz University, said: “There is religious significance to every aspect of embryo development, from the time an egg is fertilized or cloned to form an embryo, to the subsequent days when the embryo begins to divide and further divide.”

Referring to the embryonic stem cell research, he added: “There are grave ethical concerns that need to be expressed by religious leaders. The concerns are expressed in the context of Islam.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Naif Al-Qurashi, acting director of community relations, said KFSHRC, the medical sponsor of this year’s Jeddah 22 summer festival, conducted a series of health education and awareness during the six-week festival.

Source: Arab News©

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08 August 2001 05:41:56 PM

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