Skip to comments.Embryo Vivisection and Elusive Promises Act--California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative
Posted on 05/24/2004 10:11:03 PM PDT by Coleus
Embryo Vivisection and Elusive Promises Act
Unable to attract private investors, and shut out of federal dollars, the biotech industry has partnered with Hollywood and the disease lobby in a widely publicized attempt to fund human cloning and embryonic stem cell research with taxpayer dollars.
This November voters will find the "California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative" on the ballot. This is a deceptively labeled $3 billion bond initiative, one which amends the California state Constitution.
To be on the ballot, proponents are required to secure 600,000 signatures. But thanks to a number of wealthy backers who bankrolled the campaign to obtain signatures, the number will soon be met and surpassed.
There are multiple layers of misrepresentation in the ballot language. For example, proponents pretend that the measure actually bans the use of funds for human cloning.
In fact it merely constrains "human reproductive cloning." So-called "therapeutic cloning" would not be banned. Both techniques produce cloned human embryos. With the latter, however, there is no intention to allow the birth of a human being.
The initiative would fund any research or therapy involving human cloning as long as it is not what it calls "human reproductive cloning." This is defined as "the practice of creating or attempting to create a human being by transferring the nucleus from a human cell into an egg cell from which the nucleus has been removed for the purpose of implanting the resulting product in a uterus to initiate a pregnancy." As a result, if passed the initiative would create a constitutional "right to conduct stem cell research which includes research involving ..." embryonic stem cell research and the cloning of human embryos for research and destruction.
In 2002, the California legislature made permanent a policy that allows for human cloning, provided that every human embryo or fetus that is created is killed, but funding has been scarce.
The language of the initiative disguises the impact of the proposal by using scientific terminology such as "somatic cell nuclear transfer" (SCNT), without explanation to the voter who may not realize that this means human cloning. The word "embryo" appears nowhere in the initiative; in its place is the degrading term "products."
Research into adult stem cell research, which actually has had some wonderful achievements, could also be funded. However, since there are no current bars to such funding, that is obviously not the objective of this measure.
Rather, the biotech industry and others continue to mislead the public and those with heartbreaking diseases. They offer false hope that so-called "therapeutic cloning" (which is still human cloning, only the embryo is never intended to be implanted!), and embryonic stem cell experiments will carry the day.
The truth is to date such research is without visible success. Indeed there have been stunning failures, such as transplants that cause increased tremors in Parkinson's patients, and the creation of cancerous tumors in animals.
The initiative creates a new state agency called the "California Institute for Regenerative Medicine," and a 29-member "Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee" to govern the institute. Some of the members of this committee would be appointed by chancellors of the University of California, whose institutions would obviously have a clear financial interest in garnering such research projects.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has already underwritten the paid signature-gathering effort to the tune of $500,000. But that's just a down payment in a campaign, which could run to $20 million. According to published reports, the names of Hollywood producers and celebrities are already lined up behind it, with more to come.
So in a state where the fiscal shortfall dwarfs the entire budgets of most of the states, taxpayers will be asked to fork over "an average of $295 million per year over a 10-year period" for research clearly opposed by the public. (See the May 2002 Gallup poll, which shows that the public opposes the "cloning of human embryos for use in medical research" by 61%-34%.)
Even by California standards this is a lot of money, so it is written into the initiative that the start of the payback is postponed until 2010. Regardless, the Legislative Analyst's Office calculates that the stemcell bonds would actually cost $6 billion to pay off over 30 years.
Opponents have carefully explained why they oppose research using human embryos and support research that uses ethically unobjectionable sources, such as adult stem cells. "We are all in favor of stem cell research, as long as it does not involve human embryos," Gene Tarne, a spokesman for Do No Harm, told the Boston Globe. "You're creating new life for the sole purpose of destroying that new life."
The California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative may well be the most radical proposal ever to go before the voters, and a cruel hoax on those with serious diseases. But because there is great money behind the effort and the almost universal support of the major media in California, it will require a battle royal to defeat.
Adult Stem Cell Research More Effective Than Embryonic Cells *In 2000, Israeli scientists implanted Melissa Holley's white blood cells into her spinal cord to treat the paraplegia caused when her spinal cord was severed in an auto accident. Melissa, who is 18, has since regained control over her bladder and recovered significant motor function in her limbs - she can now move her legs and toes, although she cannot yet walk. This is exactly the kind of therapy that embryonic-stem-cell proponents promise - years down the road. Yet Melissa's breakthrough was met with collective yawns in the press with the exception of Canada's The Globe and Mail. Non-embryonic stem cells may be as common as beach sand. They have been successfully extracted from umbilical cord blood, placentas, fat, cadaver brains, bone marrow, and tissues of the spleen, pancreas, and other organs. Even more astounding, the scientists who cloned Dolly the sheep successfully created cow heart tissue using stem cells from cow skin. And just this week, Singapore scientists announced that they have transformed bone-marrow cells into heart muscle. Research with these cells also has a distinct moral advantage: It doesn't require the destruction of a human embryo. You don't have to be pro-life to be more comfortable with that. *In another Parkinson's case, a patient treated with his own brain stem cells appears to have experienced a substantial remission with no adverse side effects. Dennis Turner was expected by this time to require a wheelchair and extensive medication. Instead, he has substantially reduced his medication and rarely reports any noticeable symptoms of his Parkinson's. Human trials in this technique are due to begin soon.
*Bone marrow stem cells, blood stem cells, and immature thigh muscle cells have been used to grow new heart tissue in both animal subjects and human patients. Indeed, while it was once scientific dogma that damaged heart muscle could not regenerate, it now appears that cells taken from a patient's own body may be able to restore cardiac function. Human trials using adult stem cells have commenced in Europe and other nations. (The FDA is requiring American researchers to stick with animal studies for now to test the safety of the adult stem cell approach.)
*Harvard Medical School researchers reversed juvenile onset diabetes (type-1) in mice using "precursor cells" taken from spleens of healthy mice and injecting them into diabetic animals. The cells transformed into pancreatic islet cells. The technique will begin human trials as soon as sufficient funding is made available.
*In the United States and Canada, more than 250 human patients with type-1 diabetes were treated with pancreatic tissue (islet) transplantations taken from human cadavers. Eighty percent of those who completed the treatment protocol have achieved insulin independence for over a year. (Good results have been previously achieved with pancreas transplantation, but the new approach may be much safer than a whole organ transplant.)
*Blindness is one symptom of diabetes. Now, human umbilical cord blood stem cells have been injected into the eyes of mice and led to the growth of new human blood vessels. Researchers hope that the technique will eventually provide an efficacious treatment for diabetes-related blindness. Scientists also are experimenting with using cord blood stem cells to inhibit the growth of blood vessels in cancer, which could potentially lead to a viable treatment.
*Bone marrow stem cells have partially helped regenerate muscle tissue in mice with muscular dystrophy. Much more research is needed before final conclusions can be drawn and human studies commenced. But it now appears that adult stem cells may well provide future treatments for neuromuscular diseases.
*Severed spinal cords in rats were regenerated using gene therapy to prevent the growth of scar tissue that inhibits nerve regeneration. The rats recovered the ability to walk within weeks of receiving the treatments. The next step will be to try the technique with monkeys. If that succeeds, human trials would follow.
*In one case reported from Japan, an advanced pancreatic cancer patient injected with bone marrow stem cells experienced an 80 percent reduction in tumor size.
* In separate experiments, scientists researched the ability of embryonic and adult mouse pancreatic stem cells to regenerate the body's ability to make insulin. Both types of cells boosted insulin production in diabetic mice. The embryonic success made a big splash with prominent coverage in all major media outlets. Yet the same media organs were strangely silent about the research involving adult cells.
Stranger still, the adult-cell experiment was far more successful - it raised insulin levels much more. Indeed, those diabetic mice lived, while the mice treated with embryonic cells all died. Why did the media celebrate the less successful experiment and ignore the more successful one?
* Another barely reported story is that alternative-source stem cells are already healing human illnesses.
*In Los Angeles, the transplantation of stem cells harvested from umbilical-cord blood has saved the lives of three young boys born with defective immune systems.
*Rather than receiving bone marrow transplants, the three boys underwent stem cell therapy. The experimental procedure worked. Two years post-surgery, their doctors at UCLA Medical Center pronounced the boys cured.
*Last year, Israeli scientists implanted Melissa Holley's white blood cells into her spinal cord to treat the paraplegia caused when her spinal cord was severed in an auto accident. Melissa, who is 18, has since regained control over her bladder and recovered significant motor function in her limbs - she can now move her legs and toes, although she cannot yet walk.
*In 2000, Israeli scientists implanted Melissa Holley's white blood cells into her spinal cord to treat the paraplegia caused when her spinal cord was severed in an auto accident. Melissa, who is 18, has since regained control over her bladder and recovered significant motor function in her limbs - she can now move her legs and toes, although she cannot yet walk.
This is exactly the kind of therapy that embryonic-stem-cell proponents promise - years down the road. Yet Melissa's breakthrough was met with collective yawns in the press with the exception of Canada's The Globe and Mail. Non-embryonic stem cells may be as common as beach sand.
They have been successfully extracted from umbilical cord blood, placentas, fat, cadaver brains, bone marrow, and tissues of the spleen, pancreas, and other organs. Even more astounding, the scientists who cloned Dolly the sheep successfully created cow heart tissue using stem cells from cow skin. And just this week, Singapore scientists announced that they have transformed bone-marrow cells into heart muscle.
Research with these cells also has a distinct moral advantage: It doesn't require the destruction of a human embryo. You don't have to be pro-life to be more comfortable with that.
*In another Parkinson's case, a patient treated with his own brain stem cells appears to have experienced a substantial remission with no adverse side effects. Dennis Turner was expected by this time to require a wheelchair and extensive medication. Instead, he has substantially reduced his medication and rarely reports any noticeable symptoms of his Parkinson's. Human trials in this technique are due to begin soon.
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Every person reading this thread began their individual human lifetime as a zygote, then an embryo, etc. Being an embryo is but one age in a lifetime. It is cannibalism to dissect embryonic humans for their stem cell body parts. California appears now poised to embrace cannibalism for their hedonistic desires, so it is no wonder that Hollyweird is leading the campaign to elevate cannibalism to 'enlightened medical advancement'.
People who will forget 2500 years of medical ethics, don't have a problem with telling less than the truth if it furthers their cause.
There is no need for embryonic stem cell research on humans. The adult cells are working and being used. If the researchers are so sure that the embros work, they should stick to animal models until they have results. In the meantime, adult and umbilical cord cells have proven safer for those being treated, and they have fewer genetic mutations. They're also cheaper: it's estimated that each person treated will require at least 10 (probably 100 at first) oocytes and $100,000 to $200,000 up front ***Just to harvest the oocytes****!! At that rate, every woman in the US of fertile age would have to donate oocytes.
http://haem.nus.edu.sg/ishapd/2002/702.pdf (PDF abstract)
From the article (unfortunately not available on line for free)
""We have isolated from marrow of humans, mouse, and rat, cells that we have termed multipotent adult progenitor cells or MAPCs.1-5 MAPCs appear in mesenchymal stem cell cultures after 25-35 population doublings, provided that cultures are maintained on fibronectin, not collagens or laminin, in the presence of low amounts or no fetal bovine serum, and in the presence of epidermal growth factor and platelet-derived growth factor, supplemented with leukemia inhibitor factor in mouse and rat. In addition, MAPCs are only found when cells are plated and maintained at low density, and are not allowed to grow to semi-confluence or confluence. When maintained under these conditions, MAPCs from 60% of human bone marrow have been culture-expanded for more than 50 and up to 80 population doublings, and MAPCs from mouse and rat bone marrow have been expanded for more than 80-150 population doublings. Of note, this expansion is not associated with obvious genetic instability, as cytogenetic evaluation of all human and rat cultures, and all but two subpopulations of mouse cultures have not revealed cytogenetic abnormalities, suggesting that this may not be the result of a transforming event. However, the status of most oncogenes and anti-oncogenes has not yet been evaluated. Furthermore, telomeres are apparently stable in mouse, rat, and human MAPC cultures, and telomerase is active. ""
In other words, many different types of cells, that do not degenerate or mutate genetically - at least not as often as embryonic stem cells.
""This analysis of the limited body of literature raises concerns about the feasibility and relevance of therapeutic cloning, in its current embodiment, for human clinical practice. Nuclear transfer is unlikely to be much more efficient in human than in mouse. Optimistically, 100 human oocytes would be required to generate customized ntES cell lines for a single individual. A crucial difference is that, although 100 mouse oocytes can be obtained from a few superovulated females at a cost of $20, human oocytes must be harvested from superovulated volunteers, who are reimbursed for their participation. Add to this the complexity of the clinical procedure, and the cost of a human oocyte is $1,000-2,000 in the U.S. Thus, to generate a set of customized ntES cell lines for an individual, the budget for the human oocyte material alone would be $100,000-200,000. This is a prohibitively high sum that will impede the widespread application of this technology in its present form.
Despite major efforts, the efficiency of nuclear transfer has not increased over the years in any of the mammalian species cloned. Little hope should be placed in a dramatic (say, 10-fold) increase in efficiency in the near future. It becomes imperative to develop alternative strategies for therapeutic cloning, if this approach is ever to make a significant impact on medicine."""
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