Marlowe's Shade

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Exposing the Embryonic Stem Cell Pipe Dream

From as seen in ProLifeblogs

Jean Swenson is a quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury. As someone with a strong personal interest in any therapy that would reverse her condition, she is very unimpressed with the therapeutic prospects of stem cells taken from fetuses.

As a quadriplegic who could possibly benefit from stem cell research, I fear many of us are being sold an imaginary garment of hope—a fictitious belief that embryonic stem cells will cure us.

In reality, no such cures exist now or in the near future. Like the truthful child we must cry out, “But there is nothing here at all!”

Stem cells, found in embryos, umbilical cord blood, and adults, can change into specialized cell types. Their value lies in replacing diseased or damaged tissues. However, embryonic stem (ES) cells have serious problems that currently prevent human use. Adult and cord blood cells do not, and are already being used to treat nearly sixty conditions. (See )

For over twenty years scientists, using animal ES cells, have failed to solve the same roadblocks faced by researchers working on human ES cells. Problems such as tumor formation, tissue rejection, and genetic instability are enormously complex and must be overcome before ES cells can have medical applications.

The Lancet, a British medical journal that favors ES cell research, calls cure headlines “sensationalist” and “hype.” In fact, this journal reports that “no safe and effective [embryonic] stem cell therapy will be widely available for at least a decade, and possibly longer.”

According to Cornell University stem cell scientist Shahin Rafii, “Just injecting stem cells is not going to work. First, you have to be able to differentiate the cells into functional, transplantable tissues. We don’t really know how to do this yet.”

Many ES cell researchers acknowledge that ES cells are more useful for basic research than for cure applications. James Thompson, who first isolated human ES cells in 1998, states, “[Basic research] is the most important legacy [of ES cells].” He adds, “I’m very hopeful that there will be some transplantation applications for this technology, but they’re going to be very challenging. And it’s been so hyped in the press that people expect it to come the day after tomorrow.”

People who want government to fund ES cell research are expecting taxpayers to pay for science projects that knowledgeable investors will not. William Haseltine, ES cell research advocate and CEO of Human Genome Sciences said, “The routine utilization of human embryonic stem cells for medicine is 20 to 30 years hence. The timeline to commercialization is so long that I simply would not invest. You may notice that our company has not made such investments.”

Those serious about clinical trials and treatments—not just basic research—are using adult stem cells or cord blood. The Spinal Cord Society (SCS), based in Fergus Falls, MN, with 200 chapters worldwide, is on the cutting edge of spinal cord applied research, meaning they’re trying to find treatments that really work. SCS will be starting human trials using cells from patients’ own nasal cavities. SCS leadership have said they would use ES cells “if they worked for us.” But because of ES cell medical problems, SCS is currently pursuing adult stem cells and avoiding embryonic

Russian scientist Dr. Andrey Bryukhovetskiy has tried both ES cells and adult stem cells in his quest for spinal cord injury cure. He has concluded that adult cells are much more effective than ES cells in restoring function.

After President Reagan died, people were led to believe that Alzheimer’s could be cured by ES cells. Yet, according to Alzheimer researcher Michael Shelanski, “The chance of doing repairs to Alzheimer's brains by putting in stem cells is small. I personally think we're going to get other therapies for Alzheimer's a lot sooner

The tremendous pro-life blog, Jivin Jehoshaphat uncovers some blatant ES propaganda masquerading as news in a media blitz reminiscent of the Soros/RWJF campaign to promote euthanasia.

I need to do more research, but so far embryonic stem cell research appears to be another deranged experiment being foisted upon us. Part research boondoggle, part political ax to grind against Bush's opposition of anything involving abortion, it doesn't add up as good science or ethical policy.
papijoe 7:34 AM