Skip to comments.The truth about embryonic stem cell (ESC) therapies
Posted on 10/27/2006 1:33:14 PM PDT by Coleus
There is no principled objection to stem-cell research, not even to embryonic stem-cell research, provided that methods that do not destroy embryos are pursued. In fact, the May 2006 issue of First Things ran an article by E. Christian Brugger explaining and defending one such method, Altered Nuclear Transfer Oocyte Assisted Reproduction (ANT-OAR), which has received broad support from the pro-life intellectual community. There are also techniques to dedifferentiate (reprogram) an adult somatic cell back to a state of pluripotency (in other words, to convert it directly to an embryonic-like stem cell). In both these methods, no embryos are created, no embryos are destroyed. All citizens could in good faith support these methods of producing embryonic-type (pluripotent) stem cells.
Many still persist in preferring embryonic stem-cell researchbut why? Some have claimed that because the cells are younger and undifferentiated, they will be more malleable and capable of being turned into any tissue type. Furthermore, given cloning technologies, embryonic stem cells could be created from cloned human embryos (cloned from the patient) and thus avoid the risk of immune rejection. (As a separate argument, some research scientists argue that work with embryonic stem cells will advance knowledge of cellular biology, but this is a separate claim from the trumpeting indeed, hyping of supposed direct therapeutic uses of embryonic stem cells made in recent years.) Leaders in the stem-cell community, however, are beginning to speak out about scientific hurdles embryonic stem-cell therapies face. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media in the United States has chosen to ignore it.
Leaders in the stem-cell community, however, are beginning to speak out about scientific hurdles embryonic stem-cell therapies face. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media in the United States has chosen to ignore it.
Luckily, the Australian media has been paying attention. The Australian ran a series of articles this week about Dr. James Sherley, associate professor of biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who is lecturing in Australia about stem cells and cloning. The Australian reports concern about scientific dishonesty had driven him out of his Massachusetts Institute of Technology laboratory and into the public debate. Why? The Australian summarizes, supporters of embryonic stem cell research ignored evidence that adult stem cells had far greater potential, if they could be produced in large quantities. Sherley is now at work on methods to mass produce these cells. Sherley argues that adult stem cells present greater promise for medicinal cures because they are already specialized into the tissue-type needed, and because they are harvested directly from the patient in need of therapy they have the same genotype and thus avoid the risk of immune rejection (without need for cloning or embryo destruction). As Sherley put it: If you have a problem with your liver, you need a liver stem cell, you dont need an embryonic stem cell.
Embryonic stem cells, meanwhile, have several major problems, notably and seldom mentioned they cause tumors and form cancerous growths. Sherley explains it this way: When you put them [ESC] in an environment where they can grow and develop, they make lots of different kind of tissues. This tumour formation property is an inherent feature of the cells. And all you have to do is simply inject them into an animal tissue this happens at very high efficiency. Currently, there are no solutions to this problem on the horizon. As Sherley put it: And although some might say we can solve the tumour problem down the road, thats equivalent to saying we can solve the cancer problem, and we may, but thats a long time coming. Ironically, pointing out this scientific concern will no doubt result in being labeled anti-science or science-phobic. Sherley recognizes that pressure from the media and from patient groups desperate for cures who have had their hopes raised by hype from politicians and members of the scientific community has led other scientists to fear speaking out. The Australian reports: Sherley said many scientists agreed with his views but were too scared to speak out over concerns it could affect their funding and reputation.
If you doubt this is the case, one need only look to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) the multibillion-dollar institute dedicated to embryonic stem-cell research on the California taxpayers dime and their recent proposed strategic report. The report states: [I]t is unlikely that CIRM will be able to fully develop stem cell therapy for routine clinical use during the ten years of the plan. Within that time span, however, we will be able to advance therapies for several diseases to early stage clinical trials, and to have therapies for other diseases in the pipeline. For the next ten years, the best they can promise is early stage clinical trials and therapies in the pipeline. The Mercury News in an article last week reports that the Institutes president, Zach Hall, predicted it might take 15 years before the institutes research results in a medical product. Meanwhile, adult stem-cell therapies are healing patients now despite the fact that they receive only a fraction of the funding. One can hope that the alternative techniques to produce embryonic-type (pluripotent) stem cells are soon perfected and that in the near future we will have a workable method to produce embryonic stem cells without destroying living human embryos. Even when that is accomplished (studies are being reviewed as we speak), the resulting cells will still have the same cancerous-tumor-formation problem that all embryonic stem cells possess. This leaves one question: Given the severe ethical problems with current methods of embryonic stem-cell research and the inherent scientific problems with tumor formation, why have they been hyped to such a large extent while adult stems have gone unnoticed? One can only guess. Ryan T. Anderson is a junior fellow at First Things. He is also the assistant director of the Program on Bioethics and Human Dignity at the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, N.J.
...Last week, the California biotech company Advanced Cell Technology proposed a way out of the impasse. Writing in the scientific journal Nature, ACT researchers described a way to make stem cells from single cells that had been removed from embryos. Because fertility doctors routinely remove single cells from embryos for genetic testing and then successfully implant them, the technique could in theory be used to create stem cells without destroying human embryos.
An e-mail sent to reporters by Nature before the paper's online publication stated that company researchers "have been able to generate new lines of cultured embryonic stem (ES) cells while leaving the embryo intact."
In reality, however, the embryos used by the company were destroyed in the course of developing the method. The researchers removed an average of five to six cells from each embryo rather than one to improve their chances of success. Removing that many cells at such an early stage of development effectively destroys an embryo.
Within hours of the paper's release, the journal issued a pair of clarifications to the original e-mail that corrected the mistake. But several media outlets included the error in their own accounts.
We are a multi-faith group. As of 2006-JAN, we consist of one Atheist, Agnostic, Christian, Wiccan and Zen Buddhist. Thus, the OCRT staff lack agreement on almost all theological matters: belief in a supreme being, the nature of God, interpretation of the Bible and other holy texts, whether life after death exists and what form it takes, etc.
ACTC stock was up today .....
Just for yucks
They are left wing for sure. Also, they are from Toronto, Canada. 'Nuff said.
every thing you posted had already been accomplished by using adult stem cells without killing any children.
bump & a ping
There might be another answer, but that one works for me.
Please FreepMail me if you want on or off my Pro-Life Ping List.
And in reply to your homepage question, yes, I did go to check up on you!
But there is a v-a-s-t difference in cells that don't know what they are yet (Embryonic) and those that do (Adult).
Listen .... personally, I'm really on the fence with this issue, I admit. Being a christian and hardcore pro-life there are some things I find that cut across the grain of my core beliefs. Perhaps taking this side of the debate is theraputic and causing me to rethink the issue.
But if I had to choose right now - I'd say if there were a way to extract a single cell from an embryo without damaging the potential the remainder cells would develope into a human baby ..then I'm all in.
ACTC has made a claim, presented white papers and the world has responded by saying, "Prove it".
Well, I'm willing to give them the time and money to do just that. God knows we have spent money in the billions on totaly useless studies. This one, if it can be done would be one of the greatest finds in a century.
We conservatives have no problem sending our young men and women to war - watch them get blown into a million pieces and suck it up, siting drunken driver statistics as a comparison.
We have an opportunity here ... to ease pain and suffering. If I had to chose where my tax dollars go - Ted Kennedy's hookers and scotch or giving hope a child would see again, (pick your ailment) I wouldn't think twice about funding stem cell research.
Now if that line of thinking is criminal - then lock me and others like me up.
This is a whole new and different argument.
Are you implying only christians can find a moral foothold in the pro-life debate?
I like your tagline ... btw
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