Sunday, May 16, 2004

Stem cells - more of the same

Wesley J. Smith on Stem-Cell Research on National Review Online:
"'We have to use our limited resources efficiently. Money spent on embryonic-stem-cell research and human cloning is money that cannot be spent on [investigating] adult stem cells.' If Kelly is right, increasing funding for embryonic-stem-cell research, especially if it comes at the expense of adult experiments, could actually delay the cures that so many suffering patients hope desperately to receive from developing cellular therapies."
That's right - it's the embryonic stem cell backers who are causing problems with research. They would have us believe that their way is the only way, as in this reference which does not acknowledge the existence of adult (non-embryonic) stem cells.

Yet as noted in the link, it's the adult stem cells that are showing all the successes:
Adult-stem-cell and related therapeutic approaches are in current clinical trials or use for the treatment of cancers, autoimmune diseases, anemias, bone and cartilage deformities, corneal scarring, stroke, and skin grafts. Researchers have successfully restored some eye functions by extracting stem cells from human eyes, growing them in culture, and transplanting them into mice. Human trials are showing similar successes. Optimistic researchers hope that the technique could provide a cure for blindness within five years. Cells from human fat have proven to be true adult stem cells that look to be useful in regenerative medicine. Indeed, it appears that 62 percent of human fat cells "could be reprogrammed into turning into at least two other different cell types," according to Duke University researchers.

The thrust of the research now seems indisputable: While certainly not yet a sure thing, and noting that much work remains to be done in animal and controlled human studies, barring unforeseen problems adult-stem-cell and related therapies may be potent sources of new and efficacious medical treatments in the years to come. Just as significantly, these therapies are likely to be available far sooner than embryonic-stem-cell treatments, since adult and related therapies do not appear to cause tumors, would not be rejected, and do not have to be maintained indefinitely in vitro, because they would come from patients' own bodies.
Now look at this:here:
The doctors thought that this woman might benefit from receiving stem cells from her daughter. The idea was that the mother's body would tolerate or accept the daughter's stem cells and the daughter's stem cells would see the mother's tumor as "foreign" and fight it.

Within three days after stem cells from the daughter’s blood were transfused into the mother, the mother’s symptoms started to get better. Within one month, her activities improved and her tumors “showed striking decreases,” according to the report.

Within seven months she had regained all of her lost weight and had a normal lifestyle. Her cancer has remained in regression for over one year, according to the authors. There is also evidence that the daughter’s cells are still present in her mother’s body.
The stem cells in question are adult stem cells inasmuch as the woman's daughter is not an embryo. But the article doesn't say so, and IMO embryonic stem cell backers do what they can to blur this very important distinction.

Well, maybe the embryonic research might offer still more opportunities. Really? The record is mostly one of failures, and scary ones at that. From Smith:
In animal studies, embryonic-stem-cell treatments have been found to cause tumors. In one mouse study involving an attempt to treat Parkinson's-type symptoms, more than 20 percent of the mice died from brain tumors — this despite researchers reducing the number of cells administered from the usual 100,000 to 1,000.
Just read it all.

Why can't the press acknowledge that 1) there are other forms of stem cells, and 2) the kind they're pushing has a record of failure?

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