November 28, 2006

Embryonic Stem Cells Still a Flop

I assume you remember the controversy with Michael J Fox and his political commercial for Claire McCaskill. Fox is shown speaking as his body is moving spasmodically on screen and the clear intention of the ad was that if only we could do embryonic stem cell research, people like him, who suffer from Parkinson’s, could be helped if not cured.
The ad was misleading on several fronts not the least of which, and the most important of which, was scientifically. To repeat what I have said in these commentaries numerous times, there has not been one single success trial, cure, or even improvement in any disease process using embryonic stem cells while there have been many, many success stories using stem cells from other sources; other non-controversial sources.
Just last week it was reported in the journal Nature, scientist, Giulio Cossu, director of the Stem Cell Research Institute at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute of Milan in Italy reported successful treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This is a muscle-wasting genetic disorder that affects only boys and is the most common childhood form of muscular dystrophy.
Now the catch is the trial was done on dogs. The golden retrievers received injections of stem cells obtained either from the dogs themselves or from other healthy dogs. This sort of research goes on all the time and there is no controversial killing of babies in order to obtain these cells. Now just because this was successful with dogs doesn’t mean it will translate to humans but it is exciting news none-the-less.
The injections worked amazingly well and were so effective that the dogs, which were severely disabled prior to treatment, were able to walk faster and jump after stem cell therapy.
So again, don’t believe the hype about embryonic stem cells. It is purely political. It is beginning to look more and more as if God was going to make sure we didn’t start cannibalizing embryonic humans in the name of helping other mature humans.
So let’s go full steam ahead with ethical research and not sink to the level of Dr. Mengele using human beings, created in the image of God, for the purpose of easing someone else’s hardship. That is a prerogative that has not been left up to us.


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