Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stem Cell Update

Political setbacks for stem cell advocates will not destroy or harm medical research efforts because successful efforts have not relied on embryonic stem cells in the first place. For those who wish to pursue embryonic stem cell research, there are other sources of embryonic stem cells.

A fact that is not commonly heard in the debate on embryonic stem cells is that medical advances based on stem cell research have not been based on embryonic stem cells. These advances have been made exclusively by research using adult stem cells. Use of adult stem cells has proved beneficial in over seventy different diseases ( m) while embryonic stem cell research has led to no treatments thus far. On the contrary, embryonic stem cells have been known to cause tumors in adults and be rejected by the body ( m).

Additionally, embryos are not the only source of embryonic stem cells. These cells can also be found in umbilical cords, placentas, amniotic fluid, and cadavers. Many of these sources of stem cells cause no disruption of a pregnancy and no loss of human life. These nonlethal sources of stem cells should be sufficient for research.

Finally, over the past few months, scientists have made advances in creating artificial stem cells. Scientists have already succeeded in turning bone marrow cells into stem cells ( em-cells-turned-into-primitive-sperm-cells.html). Just a few days ago, scientists announced that they are now able to convert adult skin cells into cells that behave like embryonic stem cells ( e/archive/200711/CUL20071120d.html).

The political setbacks for stem cell advocates only focus on government funding for stem cell research. Private research using embryonic stem cells is legal. We should ask ourselves, if embryonic stem cells hold so much promise for miracle cures, then why can the research not be done by private companies? These companies should be willing to invest in research and development of stem cell therapies that would earn massive profits. If private companies don't see that embryonic stem cells hold the promise of cures and profits, then why should the government pursue this research with taxpayer dollars?

There is no longer any reason to destroy living human embryos for research. Adult stem cells provide the greatest success for medical treatments, but for those who wish to continue research using embryonic stem cells, there are several artificial alternatives. If their research is promising, private funding can easily be found on the capital market due to the huge profits to be earned from successful therapies.

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