We can all find agreement on success of using adult cells over embryonic

During the last decade, embryonic stem-cell research has been a subject of much controversy and division. Lost in the debate surrounding embryonic stem cells is the success of adult stem cells.  Adult stem cells and the success surrounding their utilization is an area where we can all find agreement. 

Adult stem cells, which can be found in various parts of the body from bone marrow to the umbilical cord, are very different from embryonic stem cells and have shown great benefits in recent research. A recent Associated Press article, “Adult Stem Cell Research Far Ahead of Embryonic” highlighted these benefits.

In the article, Dr. Rocky Tuan of the University of Pittsburgh and a former National Institutes of Health researcher, when referring to the use of adult stem cells to repair tissues, stated, “That gives adult stem cells really a very interesting and potent quality that embryonic stem cells don’t have.”  

Just to highlight a few areas of recent research success:

•  Multiple Sclerosis: Two studies have shown success. One used the patient’s own adult immune stem cells, the other used the patient’s own bone marrow adult stem cells in treating MS.

•  Parkinson’s Disease: Adult neural stem cells were transplanted to reverse the effects of the disease. The study showed improved motor skills.

•  Arthritis: One study used a patient’s sister’s blood stem cells for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The other used adult stem cells from autologous blood with more than 50 percent of patients responding positively.

Additional recent adult stem-cell research with positive benefits has involved patients with diabetes, scleroderma, heart disease, pediatric skin disease and pre-leukemia like bone marrow failure diseases.

My wife has donated cord blood after giving birth. We want the research to continue on adult stem cells. We want the benefits derived to be available to our families and others in the future.  

Personally, I am pro-life and oppose the use of embryos in any research. In addition, given the budgetary atmosphere we are in, why fight over spending that is contentious? Let’s fund the adult stem-cell research, which has proven results, to get the most out of our limited taxpayer resources. Let private funds pay for whatever research that companies or universities or individuals want to conduct…just not taxpayer resources.

Why step beyond my and many others’ moral boundaries with the public financing of embryonic stem-cell research. The adult stem-cell research has been much more productive, and we can all support it.  

Finally, just last week in the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on which I am the ranking Republican, we marked up H.R. 6081, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act of 2010. This bill would promote cord blood donations.  It is non-controversial and passed the subcommittee on a voice vote.  

Let’s continue to fund adult stem-cell research, an area where we find success, not controversy and division.

Rep. Shimkus is the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.