Aug 22, 2008

BIOETHICS - STEM CELLS & CLONING: Science almighty - adult vs. embryonic stem cells

The news is filled lately with stories about the promise of adult stem-cell therapy. Last fall, for example, researchers reported they successfully produced stem cells from adult skin cells, bypassing the need for embryonic stem cells. The Los Angeles Times reported recently that treatment using umbilical and marrow cells healed a boy of a fatal skin disease. Doctors said the treatment’s success may move that disease “off the incurable list” for other patients.

And the Family Research Council just released a report about more successes. “Currently, peer-reviewed studies have documented 73 different conditions in humans where patient health has been improved through adult stem cell therapy . . . and over 1,400 FDA approved trials are ongoing.”

The paper describes a myriad of therapies, including the regeneration of heart tissue for a man with congestive heart failure; enabling a patient with Type I Diabetes to become insulin-free; and the treatment of a bone-cancer victim, who is now cancer-free. The report also cites adult stem-cell treatments that could treat trauma injuries and help patients with liver cancer. Good news, indeed—and good news that we no longer have to wrestle with the moral question of embryonic stem cell research.

Well, not so fast . . . Both candidates for president still favor it, for they are marching to the drumbeat of those who want no restrictions on science. Michael Kinsley, for example, a columnist who himself suffers from Parkinson’s, said bluntly, “This issue [that is, embryonic stem cell research] will not go away.”

“Scientifically,” Kinsley says, “it makes no sense to abandon any promising avenue just because another has opened up . . . Every year that goes by, science opens new doors.”

BreakPoint 24 Jul 2008

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