Thursday, July 29, 2004

Some Things You Might Not Know About Stem Cell Research

  • There are two different kinds of stem cell research: embryonic and adult. Embryonic stem cells are taken from human fetuses, destroying the fetus in the process. Adult stem cells are taken from fat tissue, bone marrow, umbilical cords, and other easy sources without destroying anything.
  • Nobody is opposed to adult stem cell research. Not even the Republicans.
  • Though scientists have a theoretical interest in embryonic stem cells, in practice they have been shown to frequently cause tumors and to be rejected by the immune systems of those mice into which they were injected.
  • Major advances have been made in adult stem cell research. Adult stem cells in experimental trials have been used to grow new heart tissue in humans, bring about remission Parkinson's and cancer cases, and even treat blindness and reverse severed-spinal cord paralysis in mice. Hundreds of human diabetes patients have been weaned off of insulin as the result of adult stem cell therapy.
  • Embryonic stem cells have resulted in exactly zero advances to date. None. Nada. They can't even be used for human trials because they are so dangerous. As Wesley J. Smith points out: one recent experiment, [embryonic stem] cells were injected into a mouse in the hope they would rebuild the animal's damaged knee. Instead, the cells obliterated the knee by stimulating tumor growth. (More recently, an adult stem cell animal study successfully rebuilt joints without causing tumors.)
  • Not one human being has been cured or even successfully treated using embryonic stem cells.
So despite Ron Reagan's attempts to portray conservatives as anti-science, it's actually the Mengeles of the harvest-the-embryos crowd who appear to be ignoring the results of scientific study.

(For more information on this, I cannot recommend highly enough the work of Wesley J. Smith. He's no member of the Christian right, having co-authored at least five books with Ralph Nader.)

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