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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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Vatican Gives A Boost To Biotech Company

May 25, 2010 - 6:57 AM | by: Greg Burke

A company called NeoStem has announced a joint project with the Vatican today to promote research in adult stem cell therapy.

It’s not often that the Vatican gets directly involved with a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and while the Catholic Church is not making an investment in the deal, it is a kind of “Vatican Seal of Approval.”

The charitable arm of the biopharmeceutical company, the Stem for Life Foundation, will be working together with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture to try to show the promise of adult stem cell research in treating disease.

The Catholic Church has long opposed research on embryonic stem cells, arguing that such work means destroying life.

“There are terrible ethical and moral problems with the use of embryonic stem cells,” said Fr. John Zuhlsdorf of the Catholic Online Forum. “To use them you have to kill an embryo. This is not a problem with adult stem cells.”

Fr. Robert Gahl, professor of ethics at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, said the Vatican should be congratulated for working with NeoStem.

“This is an ethical approach to discovering new cures for thousands of diseases, even including degenerative conditions,” Gahl told FoxNews.com. “Tens of thousands of patients have already been successfully treated and the further promise of this research is truly exciting.”

Fr. Thomas Berg of the Westchester Institute, a Catholic think tank, said the initiative is an example of a Vatican department thinking out of the box – at least by Vatican standards – and trying to engage the world of biotechnology.

“I think we should all welcome this announcement as a sign that the Church is indeed trying to engage that culture in a positive way,” Berg told Fox.

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