Friday, March 13, 2009

Not stem cell research, objectifying humanity.

If there is one thing to be said about political columnists such as Kathleen Parker, they always come up with cute creative ways to not get their message across and to reaffirm to the congregation where their positions clearly are. Stem cell research if it comes from embryoes not used and would have been discarded by fertility clinics is now "objectifying humanity." In other words, if I had some debilitating disease such as Parkinson's that could be cured by an embryonic stem cell based treatment, I'd be objectifying humanity if I accepted such a treatment. But the painful shaking, the slow deterioration of the body long before death would have brought a blessed relief; I'd have that choice wouldn't I of not accepting the treatment on "moral grounds" and thereby objectify my own. No one wins in such a debate because it becomes an either or. Either you are going to be for that discarded embryo that never becomes a child or you are going to be for research done on it that saves the life of your child. Looks like objectifying humanity is a permanent fixture in the political realm already.

While Ms. Parker turns to select research to prove why we should turn only to alternative stem cell research, she mentions U.S. News & World Report in particular who's editorial staff and editor in particular happens to have a political bias. They gave full coverage to a guy once with "research" that was ultimately discredited as to a "link" between breast cancer and abortion. But discredited ultimately because the risks of breast cancer should have been just as high for women who miscarry, in itself a form of abortion. Or breast cancer risks already being high for women who never had kids. How about the breast cancer risks for women who did have kids? How about the fact that women can simply be prone to breast cancer period never mind the politics surrounding abortion? So, the researcher she mentioned, who worked initially for the first President Bush (by the way, G HW Bush was anti-abortion) a Dr. Bernadine Healy informing the readership that embryonic stem cell research is obsolete. If that were the case, then President Obama would have no cause to lift the ban or provide federal tax dollars.

Of course private research could always get private funding so Ms. Parker intoned. But given the politics surrounding embryonic stem cell research private funding would not necessarily be guaranteed. Esp. when restrictions existed that scientists could only use existing stem cell lines, most of which were unusable, private research with private funding based on such a federal restriction, would have simply driven such research to other nations with fewer restrictions. Which I believe that Ms. Parker neglected to be any too informative about that . Only because of such a restriction, not necessarily because of the efficacy of using alternative stem cells, researchers turned to seeing what might be done about that to essentially get around the ban. Which again, Ms. Parker ignored. If such research were indeed a success, again there would be no need for President Obama to lift the ban on embryonic stem cell research.

The cloning of Dolly the sheep created a political firestorm. What was feared was that human cloning would be next, the creating and destroying of human embryos for research purposes. Well now, if anti-abortionists guard the door against using discarded embryos for research, they could just as easily pave the way toward scientists creating and destroying embryos for research purposes.

My position is, that discarded embryos should be used for research if there is no way that they can ever be children. To find out exactly how stem cells work, what they can be used for and eventually, to discover if alternative stem cell use can also be duplicated to the same degree of success as is done with embryonic stem cell research. But that no treatments should go out the door until all research has been done. I don't believe in objectifying humanity. If a stem cell taken from my blood or skin, etc. could be used to cure a debilitating affliction, I'd be more than happy to receive it because it would be the culmination of research that got the science to this point in time. It has to start somewhere. Why not with discarded embryos?

3 comments:

Stem Cell Blog said...

For just one second, let's abandon the concept of researching embryonic stem cells for "the potential to advance our general knowledge for the future" and also "the religious morality debate".

I know this is a huge request but bear with me. Let's only assess the wisdom of lifting the ban on funding for embryonic stem cell research under the "pretense" that scientists, the government, the FDA and the AMA are actually interested in embryonic research for the development of treatments for deadly and debilitating diseases.

We have to start with the reality expressed by
Dr James Thomson, father of embryonic research when he said: "...embryonic stem cells are not being used in any clinical applications yet, while alternatives such as adult stem cells figure in scores of therapies." and "Ten or 20 years from now...there will be transplantation- based therapies (from ESC) , but even if there was none, and it was a complete failure, this technology is extraordinarily important"

Then consider: "The iPS (induced pluripotent stem cells) discovery even prompted Ian Wilmut, who led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep, to abandon his license to attempt human cloning, saying that the researchers "may have achieved what no politician could: an end to the embryonic stem cell debate."

And, just several days ago, Dr. Bernadine Healy, director of the National Institutes of Health under the first President Bush, wrote in U.S. News & World Report that these recent developments "reinforced the notion that embryonic stem cells . . . are obsolete." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/10/AR2009031002842.html

These are not "religious freaks" (as the pro ESC like to refer to them), these are not even "pro adult stem cell advocates"; these are the top minds in embryonic research deciding, based solely on the scientific research potential of ESC that "embryonic research for treatments has little to no life left in it".

And yet, the critics of ASC argue onward while simultaneously turning a blind eye to the huge advancements around the world that adult stem cells have made in therapeutic treatments. http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/category/victories-success-stories/

Embryonic...Adult...Induced Pluripotent... Which one(s) will be the victor(s) in the stem cell wars (for treatments)? Let's address these points briefly.

While Embryonic stem cells (ESC) were previously thought to be more powerful than Adult Stem Cells (ASC) because they can become any cell in the body (pluripotency), new studies on ASC are showing that they can become virtually anything. Scientists recently turned Skin cells into ASC into Neuron-ASC. http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2009/02/25/researchers-make-nerve-cells-from-new-stem-cells-science-reuters/

A decade of ESC research around the world has resulted in no human treatments & because the ESC continue to divide beyond the scientist’s control, they can turn into tumors. ESC also require immunosuppressive drugs, which one of the most common forms of ASC (autologous) used in treatment do not.

Over the same decade of research, adult stem cell treatments have given thousands improved health, extended lives, helped paraplegics to walk… http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/spinal-cord-injury-sci-stem-cell-trials-japan-plays-catch-up/

Gave a man with AIDs 2 years (so far) free of symptoms… http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/?s=aids+symptom+2+years

Successfully improved MS & Cerebral Palsy patients, the list goes on and on… http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/category/victories-success-stories/

ASC are already helping improve & extend the lives of patients with dozens of “incurable” diseases,” 73 diseases when you count only US published scientific papers & well over 100 if you read all of the papers from outside the USA.

Additionally, Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) are ASC modified to be able to become any cell in the human body & seem to have all of the benefits of ESC with significantly less of a rejection issue; not to mention without the political & religious controversy. http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2009/02/26/embryonic-stem-cell-alternative-has-another-advance-ips-cells-yield-nerve-cells/

And iPSC don’t have the tumor and cancer potential that ESC do either: http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2009/03/06/cancer-threat-removed-from-stem-cells-scientists-say-los-angeles-times/

Even the NIH is jumping into the ASC research and treatment pool. http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2009/02/26/nih-says-adult-stem-cells-are-ready-for-the-prime-time-yah-baby/

Why is there still so much focus on ESC when both ASC & iPSC seem capable of achieving everything ESC can do with a fraction of the obstacles?

The world is treating thousands successfully with ASC. We are 8 years behind most of the stem cell research in the world and focused on the dead end road (for treatments) of embryonic stem cells?

We CAN and SHOULD do what it takes to develop treatments for the multitude of dying and debilitated patients NOW.

David Granovsky - http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com

phyl said...

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The New Arch Druid's take on the news said...

Well nice. Glad to see I got some traffic after posting this. Any stem cell research is pretty much in its infancy. I also saw a similar argument at http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/opinion/ that I figure got lifted without attribution from stem cell blog. My answer to the author in particular, when funding dried up in the last 8 years for embryonic stem cell research, and only because it had, that was when stem cell researchers turned to what they could get in adult stem cells.

Referring to a fellow who worked for the former President Bush as in Bush (41) as a leading authority on the demise of embryonic stem cell research fails to take into account the man's political bias. That "demise" seems to have been a bit premature.