Skip to comments.The “Wrong” Cure
Posted on 09/09/2004 8:56:50 PM PDT by neverdem
September 09, 2004, 8:35 a.m.
The "Wrong" Cure
Members of the liberal media elite have become rather choosy when it comes to advocating stem-cell cures for degenerative medical conditions. To these commentators, cures using adult stem cells just aren't the "right" cures. For stem-cell therapy to really count, it has to come from embryos. Indeed, even the most astonishing research advances using adult cells are ignored by these arbiters of public policy as if they never happened. And since liberal elites dominate public discourse in the stem-cell debate, the American people remain generally unaware of these astonishing scientific advances.
No media personality epitomizes the elite liberal media mindset more than CNN's Larry King. It thus came as no surprise that King cared nothing about adult-stem-cell research breakthroughs when the noted artist, evangelist, and disability-rights activist Joni Eareckson Tada raised the issue in an August interview.
Tada has been quadriplegic since breaking her back in a diving accident at age 17. In recent years, she has become an outspoken opponent of human cloning and of federally funded embryonic-stem-cell research. It was in this context that Tada accepted King's offer to introduce her to Christopher Reeve, the paralyzed former movie star who has become the world's most famous advocate for using human cloning and embryonic stem cells to find cures:
King: He [Reeve] thinks he's going to walk.
Take a moment and think about what Tada told King. Paralyzed people with serious spinal injuries like those afflicting Tada and Reeve have regained feeling in their bodies using adult-tissue therapies. Assuming that King was unaware of these advances always a good assumption, given that King prides himself on not preparing for interviews he should have been thunderstruck by this big news. Tada's assertion should have prompted an immediate follow-up question demanding more details. Had King done this, Tada might have then told him that one of the paralyzed women treated by Dr. Lima with her own olfactory tissue had recently appeared before a Senate subcommittee and presented videos of herself walking with braces!
But King never even attempted to follow up. Indeed, he wasn't the least bit curious about the tremendous news that human patients with serious spinal-cord injury may be able to walk again if these early human trials using adult tissue pan out. Instead, almost reflexively, he promoted embryonic-stem-cell research, stating, "Everyone says it will be faster if embryonic is also used. Nancy Reagan is going to campaign strongly for that."
Tada told King patiently that she opposes embryonic-stem-cell research, in part because she advocates channeling scarce resources "into [adult] therapies which have the most promise, which are the most effective." She then told King about the dangers associated with embryonic stem cells of which he might be unaware, such as tissue rejection and tumors.
King shrugged this off, asserting that problems always happen in the beginning of research studies. "That's true," Tada acknowledged. And then she tried again to get King to just hear how far adult-tissue research has already advanced. "Right now," she said, "incredible therapies" are happening "with their own stem cells, whether dental pulp or nasal tissues, or bone-marrow tissues."
For a second time in two minutes Tada had presented King with the opportunity to provide his audience with a wonderful educational opportunity. Had he followed up, even skeptically, by demanding that Tada give examples of these incredible breakthroughs, she could have told him about human heart patients who have already benefited from treatment with their own bone marrow or blood stem cells. She could have given great hope to people with Parkinson's disease by describing the successes already achieved treating patients with adult cells and their derivatives. Perhaps she would have mentioned the wonderful news that in an early human trial, a patient with multiple sclerosis so advanced that he experienced bouts of blindness appears to have been put into almost total remission using his own stem cells.
But King's viewing audience was not allowed to learn any of this, because King did not inquire. Instead, he demanded to know who is harmed by embryonic-stem-cell research and asked whether she would agree to debate Christopher Reeve. Then, it was quickly on to other matters. Clearly, for King, stem-cell medical advances only count if they come from embryonic sources.
King is not alone in this incredibly myopic approach to the stem-cell debate. Other elite liberal commentators are just as narrow in their views about adult-stem-cell research. For example, Laura Bush's recent defense of her husband's stem-cell policy sent several elite liberal commentators into apoplectic orbit. Cynthia Tucker's August 13 syndicated column, "Bush's Policy on Stem-Cell Research Has No Good Defense," was especially nasty and typically ignorant of the current state of the science.
Charging that only religious extremism stands in the way of stem-cell advances, Tucker accused the president of limiting research "that could...lead to cures for Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and even some cancers. Some of those cures could be decades away. But we can't get there until we get started."
Tucker either didn't take the time to discover, or doesn't care, that we are already well under way to finding such cures! As stated above, human patients with the very diseases Tucker mentioned have already benefited from adult-tissue therapies. Animal studies have advanced even further. For example, mice with advanced-stage juvenile diabetes have been cured with adult cell therapies. Yet instead of embracing these advances, Tucker complained, "I certainly don't understand a 21st-century superpower that devotes billions to building smart bombs to destroy life efficiently but refuses to fund the research that could save or enhance the lives of millions of its citizens."
Ignorance, thy name is Tucker. Apparently she is unaware that the federal government poured more than $200 million into adult-stem-cell research and about $25 million into embryonic-stem-cell research in 2003. In addition, private investors have abundantly invested in adult-stem-cell research, while generally shunning embryonic and human cloning research, largely because adult therapies are so much closer to fruition than embryonic approaches.
Apparently, Tucker would put her political views before the current state of the science and reverse this funding ratio. But this would be most unwise. It could delay bringing regenerative cures to the American people by diverting resources away from adult-cell cures already in early human trials and toward embryonic research that can't even be done safely in humans a point made by Joni Eareckson Tada that bounced off Larry King's forehead.
But Kinsley is blind to this wonderful news. In a diatribe against Laura Bush and the president, Kinsley claimed that "stem cell research has been drastically slowed" by the president's stem-cell policy (again, apparently, the only real stem-cell research is embryonic-stem-cell research). Working himself into a blind rage, Kinsley accused President Bush of "ensuring there is no hope at all" for people like him who suffer from Parkinson's disease a statement exhibiting sheer indifference to the very facts that hold out true hope for Kinsley's own health problems.
Media opponents of President Bush's stem-cell policy often accuse the president of deciding science questions based on religious beliefs. But they are the ones whose ideological predilections and personal antipathy for political opponents are making them incapable of appreciating the evidence. As the old saying goes, none are so blind as those who will not see.
Thanks, I had not heard of all these sucess stories with adult stem cell research before
".......we gotta use embryo stem cells because it's more lucrative, ah, I mean it's more, more, more important that we help out Plan Parenthood than these Wacko Right-Wing Wackos."
Just a bump
The outcome is never what is important with liberals it is always the agenda first mentality.
I very seldom comment on the threads you alert us to. However, I wanted to tell you that I appreciate the trouble you go to in order to bring information to us. I learn a lot.
Adult stem cells work there is NO need to harvest babies for their body parts.
*In 2000, Israeli scientists implanted Melissa Holley's white blood cells into her spinal cord to treat the paraplegia caused when her spinal cord was severed in an auto accident. Melissa, who is 18, has since regained control over her bladder and recovered significant motor function in her limbs - she can now move her legs and toes, although she cannot yet walk.
This is exactly the kind of therapy that embryonic-stem-cell proponents promise - years down the road. Yet Melissa's breakthrough was met with collective yawns in the press with the exception of Canada's The Globe and Mail. Non-embryonic stem cells may be as common as beach sand.
They have been successfully extracted from umbilical cord blood, placentas, fat, cadaver brains, bone marrow, and tissues of the spleen, pancreas, and other organs. Even more astounding, the scientists who cloned Dolly the sheep successfully created cow heart tissue using stem cells from cow skin. And just this week, Singapore scientists announced that they have transformed bone-marrow cells into heart muscle.
Research with these cells also has a distinct moral advantage: It doesn't require the destruction of a human embryo. You don't have to be pro-life to be more comfortable with that.
*In another Parkinson's case, a patient treated with his own brain stem cells appears to have experienced a substantial remission with no adverse side effects. Dennis Turner was expected by this time to require a wheelchair and extensive medication. Instead, he has substantially reduced his medication and rarely reports any noticeable symptoms of his Parkinson's. Human trials in this technique are due to begin soon.
*Bone marrow stem cells, blood stem cells, and immature thigh muscle cells have been used to grow new heart tissue in both animal subjects and human patients. Indeed, while it was once scientific dogma that damaged heart muscle could not regenerate, it now appears that cells taken from a patient's own body may be able to restore cardiac function. Human trials using adult stem cells have commenced in Europe and other nations. (The FDA is requiring American researchers to stick with animal studies for now to test the safety of the adult stem cell approach.)
*Harvard Medical School researchers reversed juvenile onset diabetes (type-1) in mice using "precursor cells" taken from spleens of healthy mice and injecting them into diabetic animals. The cells transformed into pancreatic islet cells. The technique will begin human trials as soon as sufficient funding is made available.
*In the United States and Canada, more than 250 human patients with type-1 diabetes were treated with pancreatic tissue (islet) transplantations taken from human cadavers. Eighty percent of those who completed the treatment protocol have achieved insulin independence for over a year. (Good results have been previously achieved with pancreas transplantation, but the new approach may be much safer than a whole organ transplant.)
*Blindness is one symptom of diabetes. Now, human umbilical cord blood stem cells have been injected into the eyes of mice and led to the growth of new human blood vessels. Researchers hope that the technique will eventually provide an efficacious treatment for diabetes-related blindness. Scientists also are experimenting with using cord blood stem cells to inhibit the growth of blood vessels in cancer, which could potentially lead to a viable treatment.
*Bone marrow stem cells have partially helped regenerate muscle tissue in mice with muscular dystrophy. Much more research is needed before final conclusions can be drawn and human studies commenced. But it now appears that adult stem cells may well provide future treatments for neuromuscular diseases.
*Severed spinal cords in rats were regenerated using gene therapy to prevent the growth of scar tissue that inhibits nerve regeneration. The rats recovered the ability to walk within weeks of receiving the treatments. The next step will be to try the technique with monkeys. If that succeeds, human trials would follow.
*In one case reported from Japan, an advanced pancreatic cancer patient injected with bone marrow stem cells experienced an 80 percent reduction in tumor size.
* In separate experiments, scientists researched the ability of embryonic and adult mouse pancreatic stem cells to regenerate the body's ability to make insulin. Both types of cells boosted insulin production in diabetic mice. The embryonic success made a big splash with prominent coverage in all major media outlets. Yet the same media organs were strangely silent about the research involving adult cells.
Stranger still, the adult-cell experiment was far more successful - it raised insulin levels much more. Indeed, those diabetic mice lived, while the mice treated with embryonic cells all died. Why did the media celebrate the less successful experiment and ignore the more successful one?
* Another barely reported story is that alternative-source stem cells are already healing human illnesses.
*In Los Angeles, the transplantation of stem cells harvested from umbilical-cord blood has saved the lives of three young boys born with defective immune systems.
This [isolating stem cells from fat] could take the air right out of the debate about embryonic stem cells, said Dr. Mark Hedrick of UCLA, the lead author. The newly identified cells have so many different potential applications, he added, that it makes it hard to argue that we should use embryonic cells. -- Thomas H. Maugh II, Fat may be answer to many illnesses, Los Angeles Times, 4/10/01
With the newest evidence that even cells in fat are capable of being transformed into tissue through the alchemy of biotechnology, some scientists said they are beginning to conclude theyll be able to grow with relative ease all sorts of replacement tissues without resorting to embryo or fetal cells Its highly provocative work, and theyre probably right, said Eric Olson, chairman of molecular biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas Like many biologists, Olson believes that adult, fetal and embryonic stem cell research all merit support its heartening, he said, that almost every other week theres another interesting finding of adult stem cells turning into neurons or blood cells or heart muscle cells. Apparently our traditional views need to be reevaluated. --Rick Weiss, Human Fat May Provide Stem Cells, The Washington Post, 4/10/01
In a finding that could offer an entirely new way to treat heart disease within the next few years, scientists working with mice and rats have found that key cells from adult bone marrow can rebuild a damaged heartactually creating new heart muscle and blood vessels Until now researchers thought that stem cells from embryos offer the best hope for rebuilding damaged organs, but this latest research shows that the embryos, which are politically controversial, may not be necessary. We are currently finding that these adult stem cells can function as well, perhaps even better than, embryonic stem cells, [Dr. Donald] Orlic [of the National Human Genome Research Institute] said. --Robert Bazell, Approach may repair heart damage, NBC Nightly News, 3/30/01.
[Dr. Donald] Orlic said fetal and embryonic stem cell researchers have not been able to show the regeneration of heart cells, even in animals. This study alone gives us tremendous hope that adult stem cells can do more than what embryonic stem cells can do, he said. --Kristen Philipkoski, Adult Stem Cells Growing Strong, Wired Magazine, 3/30/01
Like several other recent studies, the new work with hearts suggests that stem cells retrieved from adults have unexpected and perhaps equal flexibility of their own, perhaps precluding the need for the more ethically contentious [embryonic] cells. --Rick Weiss, Studies Raise Hopes of Cardiac Rejuvenation, The Washington Post, 3/31/01
Umbilical cords discarded after birth may offer a vast new source of repair material for fixing brains damaged by strokes and other ills, free of the ethical concerns surrounding the use of fetal tissue, researchers said Sunday. --Umbilical cords could repair brains, Associated Press, 2/20/01.
"PPL Therapeutics, the company that cloned Dolly the sheep, has succeeded in reprogramming' a cell -- a move that could lead to the development of treatments for diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The Scotland-based group will today announce that it has turned a cow's skin cell into a beating heart cell and is close to starting research on humans... The PPL announcement...will be seen as an important step towards producing stem cells without using human embryos." --"PPL follows Dolly with cell breakthrough," Financial Times, 2/23/01
Because they have traveled further on a pathway of differentiation than an embryos cells have, such tissue specific [adult] stem cells are believed by many to have more limited potential than Embryonic Stem cells or those that PPL hopes to create. Some researchers, however, are beginning to argue that these limitations would actually make tissue-specific stem cells safer than their pluripotent counterparts. University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Glenn McGee is one of the most vocal critics on this point: The emerging truth in the lab is that pluripotent stem cells are hard to reign in. The potential that they would explode into a cancerous mass after a stem cell transplant might turn out to be the Pandoras box of stem cell research. --Erika Jonietz, Biotech: Could new research end the embryo debate? Technology Review, January/February, 2001.
ADULT STEM CELL SUCCESS STORIES
August 27, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) - University of Toronto researchers say they are a step closer to a diabetes cure using adult stem cells. The team found pancreas cells from adult mice could be transformed into new islet cells - the cells that produce insulin. The scientists are hoping the same effect will be reproducible in humans. Type I diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent type, usually begins in childhood and involves the destruction of pancreatic islet cells. The restoration of new insulin-producing islet cells would mean a cure, and eliminate the
necessity for ongoing insulin injections for this condition.
Dr Simon Smukler, lead scientist of the study, told the BBC: "People have been intensely searching for pancreatic stem cells for a while now, and so our discovery of precursor cells within the adult pancreas that are capable of making new pancreatic cells is very exciting."
Meanwhile, scientists at Northwestern University in Chicago, using adult stem cells derived from a patient's sister's bone marrow, have successfully treated the woman for crippling rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers reported that her morning stiffness was alleviated before she left hospital, and now, one year later, she is no longer affected by the disease, and able to discontinue all medications. The stem cell treatment resulted in "marked resolution of the disease manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis," according to a Reuters news report.
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