Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stem Cell Pseudo-Science

Today President Bush pulled out his veto pen for the first time to reject a bill to provide Federal tax money to pay for embryonic stem cell research.

This is a good thing, not only because embryonic stem cell harvesting involves the destruction of human life, but also because the research is bogus science.

Adult stem cells, harvested from living adults without requiring that they be killed in the process, are currently used to cure 80 different diseases. There are 1175 clinical trials on humans currently underway, leading to additional uses of adult stem cells. By comparison, embryonic stem cells have zero, zilch, nada. Not one disease has ever been cured using embryonic stem cells. They haven't even gotten as far as clinical trials on humans. Why not? Two main reasons: embryonic cells tend to be rejected by the immune system, and they tend to cause malignancies called teratomas, meaning "monster tumors."

The only advantage that embryonic stem cells claimed over adult stem cells was their ability to transform into any type of cell. However, as of 2002, researchers have been able to achieve the same thing with adult stem cells, converting adult stem cells into all three kinds of cells that the body produces during early embryonic development. There is no evidence that embryonic stem cells could ever have helped Michael J Fox, Christopher Reeve, or Ronald Reagan, but last year a South Korean woman who had been paralyzed for nineteen years due to a spinal cord injury began to walk again with the help of a walker. It was not embryonic stem cells which brought about this cure, but an injection of umbilical cord stem cells into the injured part of her spine. Before that, two women paralyzed by spinal cord injuries were treated with adult stem cells in Portugal. Both regained feeling and movement, and one began to walk with braces.

One third of the members of the House of Representatives cast votes for using tax dollars to fund embryonic stem cell research AND voted against a different bill to fund other stem cell research which does not require the death of the cell donor. It seems that there are certain people who only want this research if it involves killing human embryos. And thus the real agenda of embryonic stem cell research advocates is revealed.

Adult stem cell research has produced numerous cures which are in use today, and they did it without large amounts of government money. There is plenty of private sector money being invested in such research. You see, private investors demand results and put their money where it is most likely to provide a positive return. Thus, adult stem cell research is well funded by the private sector, leaving the hapless embryonic stem cell researchers rooting at the public trough. While the privately funded adult stem cell researchers were busy curing diseases, embryonic stem cell research advocates were whipping up a huge PR campaign, making extravagant promises of miraculous cures. But if there was anything behind these promises, private investors would be clamoring to fund the research.

In the end, there is no scientifically sound reason to think that embryonic stem cells will ever cure any disease which could not more easily be cured by other stem cells which are not harvested at the cost of a human life. The only reason that Democrats advocate using tax dollars to fund this pseudo-scientific research is that it is their last fleeting hope of creating the illusion that killing babies has some benefit to society. Of course, by that logic, the Holocaust was justified: the Nazis experimented on their victims too.


Tom said...

Your degree in microbiology is from where?

Tom said...

Here.. why don't we have an actual subject matter expert explain it to you.. you know.. one with a doctorate and such.

Don Dodson said...

Yeah, Tom. Bush ruined the last chance of Democrats in Congress to get a spine.

Tom said...

I'd imagine you'd like to make masturbation illegal as well (at least for males). It is the potential of life also, and such a shame that billions of them must get wasted every day.

That some people equate a clump of cells to a human being is rather.. well, it's just bizarre.

But.. please.. do, continue to enlighten us on the morality of biology.. of course in sharp contrast to those scientists who have spent the better part of their entire lives studying the relevant issues.. which is of course a nice way of saying that you're totally unqualified to have an opinion on that, but it certainly doesn't stop right wingers from screaming it anyway.

And just like many of the cultural issues of the day.. Bush has been a godsend.. America has seen the horrors of an unchecked executive, and out of control right wing theocracy.. and Democrats are poised to take congress this fall.. and with a shoe in for the executive in '08, much of these disastrous policies will be reversed.

Fortunately, they didn't manage to change the constitution, so while they've worked to set us back to middle ages thinking, we might just see a new age of enlightenment as payback for being insane.