Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Trouble with Embryonic Stem Cells

President Obama's reversal of President Bush's executive order banning federal funding of embryonic stem cell (ESC) research ultimately could cost American lives.
What most people are unaware of is that there are three types of stem cell research: there is embryonic stem cell research (ESC), there is induced pluripotent (IPSC) research, and adult stem cell research (ASC).

When Barack Obama rescinded George Bush’s ban on federal funding on certain types of embryonic stem cell research he also rescinded Bush’s Executive Order 13435 which had provided federal funding for induced pluripotent stem cell research using harmless adult stem cells manipulated into mimicking embryonic stem cells without the risk ESC cells entail.

This is where 72 different diseases are now being remedied or cured.

There are no embryonic stem cells being used anywhere in the world on humans, with one tragic exception. A boy treated with embryonic stem cells for a rare genetic disease developed benign tumors, casting doubt on claims of the therapy's safety and effectiveness.

According to media reports, the boy, now 17, received the ESC stem cells in 2001 at a Moscow hospital and four years later scans showed brain and spinal tumors. Israeli doctors removed the abnormal growth from his spine and their tests show it most probably was caused by the stem cells.

The Moscow doctors should have known better. It is well known that lab animals given embryonic stem cells routinely develop tumors and other malignant growths that eventually kill them. There is a 100 percent mortality rate among lab animals that develop these tumors.
That's why President Bush didn't want the federal government paying for the research. Likewise, major drug companies are not funding ESC research because they can foresee massive class action lawsuits. That's telling. If major drug companies are steering clear of a supposed gold mine in medicine, they must suspect danger.

All the while, Obama's reversal has de-funded induced pluripotent stem cell research (IPSC), an area that has shown considerable promise.

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