Embryonic Stem Cell Hype

| 2 Comments

Jean Swenson, a quadriplegic from a 1980 spinal cord injury, has been following and supporting spinal cord injury research for over 20 years. In a recent TownHall column she wrote that the public report on embryonic stem cell research is distorted and based upon fairy tales:

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!
"
Here are a few of her points on the subject:
  • No such cures based upon embryonic stem (ES) cells exist now or in the near future

  • For over twenty years scientists, using animal ES cells, have failed to solve the same roadblocks faced by researchers working on human ES cells.

  • The Lancet, a British medical journal that favors ES cell research, calls cure headlines “sensationalist” and “hype.”

  • People who want government to fund ES cell research are expecting taxpayers to pay for science projects that knowledgeable investors will not.

  • Those serious about clinical trials and treatments—not just basic research—are using adult stem cells or cord blood.
So why all of the media hype, supported by promising research proposals? Swenson points to a Washington Post article that uncovers the ill-placed tidal wave of enthusiasm inspired by the "potential" of ES cells to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

"To start with, people need a fairy tale," the Post quoted Ronald D.G. McKay, a stem cell researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Maybe that's unfair, but they need a story line that's relatively simple to understand."

One of the fairy tales is the suggestion that Alzheimer’s can be cured by ES cells. "I think the chance of doing repairs to Alzheimer's brains by putting in stem cells is small," the Post attributed to stem cell researcher Michael Shelanski, co-director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

ES cell research is not working. However, the fatal flaw of current ESC research is that scientists must "destroy" (a synonym for "kill") a human being to extract the stem cells they need. Related: Embryonic Stem Cell Research - Unethical and Not Working

HT: Vital Signs Blog

2 Comments

I wish I was more familiar with this issue, but I was wondering if someone who was could explain why, if as this article seems to accurately portray, ES is such a red herring, how did they get hyped to such an extreme in the first place. I can cynically reason that it would be another justificaton for the abortion industry, but that being so politcally loaded, there must be some other motivation that I am missing.

Posted this to my blog, but wasn't able to do a trackback for some reason.

http://marlowesshade.blogspot.com/2005/07/exposing-embryonic-stem-cell-pipe.html




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