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Monday, July 24, 2006

The Lies and Truth about Stem Cell Research

If you ask most people what they know about stem cell research, they are likely to say something about the great promise stem cell research shows in treating all sorts of terrible diseases. They're likely to mention Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's as two diseases for which a cure is just around the corner. Finally, they're likely to state that President Bush will not allow stem cell research to continue, thereby dashing the hope of those suffering from these terrible diseases.

The factual inaccuracy of such a response is astounding. However, this is the kind of misinformation that we are being constantly fed.

So what is the truth?

First, the kind of stem cell research that is being touted as the key to various medical miracles is embryonic stem cell research, the kind of stem cell research that requires the killing of human embryos in order to extract the stem cells. There is another kind of stem cell research that we hear very little about: adult stem cell research. Adult stem cell research does not require the killing of human embryos because adult stem cell are extracted from umbilical cord blood, from the human placenta, and from various human tissues such as bone marrow, lung, brain, fat, and skin, to name a few.

Second, there is no ban on stem cell research, not even on embryonic stem cell research. The only limitation on embryonic stem cell research is on taxpayer funding of the research. Private and corporate interests are allowed to fund as much research as they desire.

Third, embryonic stem cell research is far from producing any positive results. Not one human being or one disease has ever been treated with embryonic stem cells. In fact, there is not even one human clinical trial under way for embryonic stem cell treatment, and there is a major roadblock to any human clinical trials being conducted in the foreseeable future; that roadblock is the fact that embryonic stem cells have proven to cause cancerous tumors in laboratory animals.

Fourth, in contrast to embryonic stem cell research, adult stem cell research has proven to be very promising. There are 1181 human clinical trials for adult stem cells, compared to zero for embryonic stem cells. Furthermore, adult stem cells have already been used to effectively treat patients with a number of various diseases.

In one study, 48 severely ill lupus patients, who weren't expected to improve, were treated with their own stem cells. At an average follow-up period of 29 months, 42 of the patients were still living, and of those 42 patients, 33 were in remission.

In another case, Blayke and Garrett LaRue, two brothers with X-linked lymphoproliferative disease , a deadly immune-system disorder, were both cured after receiving a transplant of stem cells from umbilical cord blood.

A 61-year-old Japanese heart attack patient , who was thought to need a heart transplant as his only chance of survival, was instead treated with stem cells from his own bone marrow. The patient recovered without the heart transplant.

Dr. Dennis Turner, who had suffered for fourteen years from Parkinson’s disease, testified before a U.S. Senate committee that, after being treated with stem cells taken from a small tissue sample from his own brain, his "trembling grew less and less, until to all appearances it was gone, only slightly reappearing if I became upset." Turner went on to say, "I have no doubt that because of this treatment I’ve enjoyed five years of quality life that I feared had passed me by."

The Washington Times reported on five other Parkinson's disease patients who were treated with adult stem cells. "Symptoms improved in all five after three months. One year later, they had experienced a 61 percent improvement in their ability to perform daily activities…"

The same Times article also reported that of 250 diabetics who were treated with cells from the pancreases of deceased human donors, "more than 80 percent were able to stop their insulin shots for more than a year…"

These are just a few examples of successful treatments of humans using adult stem cells, compared to not even one human clinical trail for embryonic stem cells.

So why is it that we hear so much about embryonic stem cell research, while adult stem cell research is largely ignored?

1. If government refuses to fund embryonic stem cell research on the grounds that it destroys a human embryo, then government has acknowledged that the human embryo has value as human life. That acknowledgment is threatening to the abortion industry, which refuses to acknowledge that human fetuses have value as human life, even up to the point of birth.

2. The mainstream media, which is by and large clearly the voice of the left, is eager to advance the position of the abortion industry concerning embryonic stem cell research.

3. Many politicians receive enormous amounts of financial support from abortion industry organizations. In order to continue receiving these contributions, these politicians must continue to call for government funding of embryonic stem cell research and must continue to downplay the promise of adult stem cell research.

The abortion industry game plan, which is to misinform the public concerning the facts on stem cell research, has worked well. Many people have never even heard of adult stem cell research, or if they have heard of it, they wrongly believe that the real hope for miracle cures lies with embryonic stem cells. It is the job of those who truly value life to educate people with the truth.

5 Comments:

Blogger SkyePuppy said...

Excellent post! The more people who can get the truth out, the better.

You're a lot more detailed than I was last week. We needed that.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Malott said...

Terrific post. I'd love to see this printed in the Kokomo Tribune.

Great job as always.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Bryan Alexander said...

Skyepuppy and Malott,
Thanks to both. I appreciate the comments.

Chris, the problem is the Tribune wouldn't publish it -- it's beyond their word limit.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Bryan,

Once again, you've taken an issue that can be overwhelming and written a well-reasoned argument for adult stem cell research and against embryonic stem cell research.

I wish that politicians could decide matters based on reason, common sense and human decency rather than on special interest groups who control them with money. The world just might be a better place.

10:42 AM  
Blogger SkyePuppy said...

Bryan,

Maybe you could offer your post as a two-part (or three-part) series to the Kokomo Tribune to get it under the word limit...

2:10 AM  

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