The Truth About Stem Cells

One might think that advances in adult and cord-blood stem cells would silence or at a minimum refocus those who insist that taxpayer dollars be used to subsidize the killing of human embryos. Strangely, the obsession to use federal taxpayer dollars for what could very well be a decades long process (where failure remains a strong possibility) remains.Despite many important advancements in adult and cord-blood stem cell research, media hype continues to focus on embryonic stem cells with little regard given to the fact that nearly 70 human clinical applications using adult stem cells have been published in peer reviewed journals.



In fact, I recently read about new developments in the adult stem cell field. In April, doctors at Wake Forest constructed new bladders for seven patients with bladder disease using the patients' own stem cells. In March, British doctors reported treating five patients with liver failure with the patients own adult stem cells. Four of the five patients showed improvement and two regained near normal liver function. Late last year, Swedish researchers successfully used adult stem cells to generate functioning human brain cells, a procedure that may lead to treatments for spinal-cord injuries and neurological damage and diseases. International researchers also developed embryonic-like stem cells from umbilical-cord blood, a remarkable development that should end the practice of killing perfectly healthy human embryos to derive stem cells.

The misconception that the United States is falling behind or losing scientists because of the current embryonic stem cell policy is simply unsubstantiated. There is no statistical evidence that scientists are leaving the country due to the current policy.

In comparison to the progress achieved by researchers in adult and cord-blood stem cells, developments in the field of embryonic stem cells are disappointing. Despite years of research in animal embryonic stem cells and nearly eight years in the human-embryonic variety, research in embryonic stem cells have often resulted in failure and has a troubling tendency for these cells to form tumors. As experimental failures mount, predictions of eventual success have quietly changed from years to decades.

These failures of embryonic stem cell research are magnified by the fact that the process itself destroys human lives at their most vulnerable beginning stage. The notion that leftover human embryos, a grossly misleading and dehumanizing term, are just going to be destroyed anyway and poured down the drain is simply mythical in nature.

Last year, President Bush welcomed "snowflake families" to the White House. These families adopted embryos stored in frozen orphanages left from other couples attempts to conceive through in vitro fertilization. They have since seen their adopted embryos grow into happy, healthy children. These children are living examples of why not one taxpayer dollar should be used for the destruction of human embryos. Once the government not only permits but funds the destruction of human life in the name of science, all life is devalued and the culture of death becomes even more pervasive.