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With Stem Cells, Frist Backs a Loser
townhall.com ^ | August 4, 2005 | Michael Fumento

Posted on 08/04/2005 11:45:45 AM PDT by skeptoid

The space shuttle program would seem to have nothing to do Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist’s call for dramatically expanded federal aid for embryonic stem cell research, but there are striking parallels.....

......Yet if the shuttle has had little use, ESCs so far have had none. They’ve never been tested on humans. And like the shuttle, there are far superior alternatives. Culled from numerous body tissues, these are generally called “adult stem cells.” Yet ASCs are routinely downplayed or ignored precisely because ESCs, like the shuttle, are of little value to the human race but are tremendously valuable for individual reputations and budgets.......

.......Oddly, although Frist is a heart transplant physician he seems clueless that some of the most exciting ASC work directly involves his field. ASCs have induced either muscle or vessel growth in human hearts in hundreds of patients worldwide.

......that makes him as much a specialist on stem cells as a plumber is on aquatic chemistry.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Government
KEYWORDS: adultstemcells; cary; embryonicstemcells; frist; fumento; michaelfumento; stemcells
The stem cell funding issue is one of the least understood of current events. Once again, Fumento cuts straight to the crux.

So what, you ask?

Frist's action is preventing funding on things like the very promising cure for diabetes (linked in the article).

1 posted on 08/04/2005 11:45:47 AM PDT by skeptoid
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To: skeptoid

Fumento's great.


2 posted on 08/04/2005 11:47:26 AM PDT by My2Cents ("The essence of American journalism is vulgarity divested of truth." -- Winston Churchill)
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To: skeptoid
With Adult Stem cells showing so much promise and ESC showing little or none, a terrible irony occurred to me.
The only people ECS research could possibly benefit are destroyed in the process.
3 posted on 08/04/2005 11:59:22 AM PDT by msnimje
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To: msnimje

That had not occurred to me.

What a mind-bender.


4 posted on 08/04/2005 12:31:37 PM PDT by skeptoid
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To: skeptoid

I am really puzzled as to what Bill Frist is trying to pull here.

I vividly remember some comments made by Senator Frist during last year's election race, and they could not contrast more with what he claimed to be the case on the Senate floor last week.

When Christopher Reeve passed away last year, we all remember how Edwards and Kerry tried to capitalize on his death by making the campaign pitch for more funding of embryonic stem cell research. During a Fox & Friends show early one morning, Steve Doocy and Kiran Chetry were discussing this matter, and it was Chetry who read some comments by Frist. Chetry read comments by Frist on this issue, and it was very clear at that point that Frist was very upset at what Kerry and Edwards were doing, that it was "crass and opportunistic" for them to be giving "false hope" to those who are ill. Kiran then read some comments where Frist pointed out that most or all of the treatments currently being used (with success) were derived from adult stem cells, not embryonic.

So, this was just last October I believe. He seems to have done a complete "about face" on this. Of course, many claim that he had a favorable view of embryonic stem cell research way back in 2001, and that most of us just weren't aware of it. It's just mystifying that he was outraged at how the Dems were trying to trump up the promise of embryonic stem cells last year when he turned around and did the very same thing just last Friday on the Senate floor.

What does this man believe?


5 posted on 08/04/2005 12:33:49 PM PDT by fox0566
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To: fox0566

I wonder, too.

He's a busy guy and maybe a staffer has given him some skewed info.....but I don't think so. I think it's political bartering. Whatever the reason, I can't understand how he can hold his opinion or why he's doing it.


6 posted on 08/04/2005 12:41:31 PM PDT by skeptoid
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To: skeptoid

Knowing that adult stem cells work just as well, Frist you lose on this one.


7 posted on 08/04/2005 12:53:19 PM PDT by lilylangtree
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To: skeptoid

Whatever the reason, he now has zero credibility with me.


8 posted on 08/04/2005 12:53:30 PM PDT by fox0566
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To: skeptoid
They’ve never been tested on humans.

This is simply a stupid statement. In this country, no medical treatment is ever tested on humans before it has been thoroughly tested in animals. And responsible doctors in other countries won't do it either. Testing on animals of various potential treatments involving embryonic stem cells is still in early stages, as are the vast majority of potential treatments involving adult stem cells.

And like the shuttle, there are far superior alternatives. Culled from numerous body tissues, these are generally called “adult stem cells.”

Nobody knows yet whether embryonic stem cells or adult stem cells would be "superior". It's quite likely, though, that the two types will both turn out to be superior, for different types of treatments. Adult stem cells are hardly without serious problems, and are not the sure bet that religiously motivated opponents of embryonic stem cell research often claim. Some German researchers have recently reported very disappointing results of their studies with adult stem cells: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050803173646.htm And the oft-cited claim that embryonic stem cells cause cancer, while adult stem cells supposedly don't, has also been refuted by recent research.

Oddly, although Frist is a heart transplant physician he seems clueless that some of the most exciting ASC work directly involves his field. ASCs have induced either muscle or vessel growth in human hearts in hundreds of patients worldwide. ...that makes him as much a specialist on stem cells as a plumber is on aquatic chemistry.

Uh huh, sure. Fumento calls the eminent cardiopulmonary surgeon Frist "clueless" about the potential of stem cells for cardiac treatment. And Fumento's qualifications in this field are? Even the very top researchers in the stem cell area don't claim to know what embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells will actually be able to do, much less what the differences between the capacities of the two types might turn out to be. Frist is smart enough to realize this; Fumento is stupid enough to think he actually understands this incredibly complex area of science.

9 posted on 08/04/2005 1:46:51 PM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: fox0566

Never liked Frist, I knew he was a Southern RINO the moment he became Senate Leader.


10 posted on 08/04/2005 1:47:07 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist (If there was a problem, yo! I'll solve it!!)
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To: lilylangtree

What exactly are your credentials, that enable you state that "adult stem cells work just as well"? Even the top researchers in this field don't claim to know whether or not this statement would ever turn out to be true.


11 posted on 08/04/2005 1:49:00 PM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: fox0566

Sounds like his conscience finally got to him. He knew all along that opposing embryonic stem cell research could not be justified on any objective scientific grounds. But he's working in politics now, and did what he thought he had to do, and lied. Now he has stopped lying. I respect him for it.


12 posted on 08/04/2005 1:51:44 PM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: skeptoid

Frist sounds good, speaks well, is a doctor, but does that make him a research scientist? It seems sometimes that medicine is expected to continue to provide miracles since Pasteur was so successful. That there is much to learn about the behavior of stem cells does not make them automatically of medical interest, and predicting miracles belongs to another profession.


13 posted on 08/04/2005 1:53:39 PM PDT by RightWhale (Withdraw from the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and open the Land Office)
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To: GovernmentShrinker; skeptoid

Link to article on cancer caused by adult stem cells:
http://www.newscientist.com/channel/sex/mg18624965.200
(and I have no idea why New Scientist put this article in their "Sex" category").


14 posted on 08/04/2005 1:54:40 PM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: GovernmentShrinker

Good grief.


15 posted on 08/04/2005 2:03:58 PM PDT by fox0566
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To: GovernmentShrinker
Sounds like his conscience finally got to him. He knew all along that opposing embryonic stem cell research could not be justified on any objective scientific grounds.

There's precious little that 'objective scientific grounds' can be used to oppose; there was a lot of really nasty behavior supported on 'objective scientific grounds' in the last century and Peter Singer is doing his best to continue that work in this century.

This is a moral and ethical issue, and Frist caved.

With any luck, he will be shown to be mistaken on the political impact as well.

16 posted on 08/04/2005 2:23:13 PM PDT by slowhandluke
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To: skeptoid

I think the guy has a point to make. He disagrees with Frist on stem cells.

But Dr Frist is a brilliant man and a top rate heart surgeon. To compare his knowledge of stem cells to that of a plumber thinking about aquatic chemistry is absurd and negates any point the article was otherwise trying to make.

Frist can run rings around this journalist when it comes to Human Physiology.


17 posted on 08/04/2005 2:24:08 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: skeptoid

I think the guy has a point to make. He disagrees with Frist on stem cells.

But Dr Frist is a brilliant man and a top rate heart surgeon. To compare his knowledge of stem cells to that of a plumber thinking about aquatic chemistry is absurd and negates any point the article was otherwise trying to make.

Frist can run rings around this journalist when it comes to Human Physiology.


18 posted on 08/04/2005 2:24:10 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: GovernmentShrinker
I recommend you read the article and follow some links. The body I posted is selected excerpts. Then you could go to fumento.com and scan some of the 25 or so articles on stem cells he's written in the last five years. Or try his latest book on biotechnology.

I think you'll find him totally legit and a very thorough researcher.
19 posted on 08/04/2005 6:55:19 PM PDT by skeptoid
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To: skeptoid

Anybody who claims to know what the relative potentials of embryonic vs. adult stem cells are is either 1) too stupid to realize how stupid they are, or 2) lying. The very top researchers in this field don't claim to know that, and yet this journalist who has no professional credentials whatsoever in stem cell biology or any related field, is claiming that HE knows. What a load of crap. His credibility is several notches below those sorry excuses for scientists who claim that they know that "global warming" is a dire emergency and entirely caused by human activity.


20 posted on 08/04/2005 9:51:44 PM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: GovernmentShrinker
It's not about relative potentials; it's about results. Both types of stem cells were first studied about 50 years ago. ASC's have been used therapeutically for around 20 years. ESC's have no therapeutic use whatsoever at this late date. Please read the article, not just the post. If you have spent the reading time already, I have no comment. But I suspect you have not made the effort.

Michael Fumento is a bona fide authority on many subjects. His style is journalistic; he deals in facts; he is a diligent fellow and if you would have followed any of my recommendations, (e.g. read the source document and/or visit his site), you would have found he answers all his hate mail. I encourage you to send him some.

And while you're there, view his Review of Michael Fumento's Hate Mail (right at the end of the thirty-nine volumes of hate mail) It includes this line:
The aptly named Fumento has set himself the impressive, if not admirable, goal of being the most irritating human being on the planet, and he follows a shrewd principle: If you're going to be an asshole, be a really meticulous asshole. His writings dissect, in thorough, well sourced detail, various public "myths" of heterosexual AIDS, of Gulf War Syndrome, of domestic abuse, etc.

I await your next uninformed response.,

Mr. Fumento would likely respond, as well.

21 posted on 08/04/2005 11:32:51 PM PDT by skeptoid
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To: skeptoid

22 posted on 08/05/2005 6:54:47 AM PDT by rhema
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To: skeptoid
It's not about relative potentials; it's about results.

No sane person, much less a professional scientist, decides what potential any field of research holds, based solely on results to date. The technology available to study things this small is way ahead of where it was even 5 years ago.

If you look into the pace of developments in the closely related field of assisted reproductive technologies, you'll get a good idea of how fast things are moving. A few years ago, an 8-cell stage IVF embryo with significant fragmentation of its cells had no hope of continuing to develop into a baby, nor would the same embryo have had any hope of becoming a baby if it had been conceived naturally and remained inside its mother's uterus. It was biological waste -- whether you left it in the petri dish a bit longer, or transferred it back into the mother, it simply ceased to develop. But now, embryologists are able to remove the fragmented cells -- essentially performing surgery on 3 day old embryos -- and have found that with these defective cells removed, some of these embryos can go on to develop normally. This was just flat-out impossible 10 years ago, as the technology to perform such "surgery" simply didn't exist. No one had any way to find out whether this idea could actually work, and enable some women who are unable to produce embryos without a lot of fragmentation, to have babies of their own.

NOBODY knows what the relative potentials of embryonic stem cells vs. adult stem cells will be, nor to what extent research on embryonic stem cells might hasten the discovery of important new treatments using adult stem cells, or vice versa. Anyone who claims to know is making a fool of him/herself. Which is why there are no researchers in this field making such claims. Fumento is a JOURNALIST, who is claiming to know better than all the top researchers in this extraordinarily complex field, what the potential for the various avenues of research is. He is a buffoon.

23 posted on 08/05/2005 9:15:43 AM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: GovernmentShrinker
I agree with two-thirds of your post. The last paragraph gives me a headache. You say NOBODY knows what the relative potentials of embryonic stem cells vs. adult stem cells will be, ..snip... Anyone who claims to know is making a fool of him/herself. I think I am correct in assuming you are attributing this attitude to Fumento. If you will read the article, which I'm going to post, you'll see he makes no such claim.
Bill Frist is the guy who makes that claim.

Here's the article; about 600-700 words. See the Another myth paragraph about half-way through.

townhall.com Printer-friendly version With Stem Cells, Frist Backs a Loser Michael Fumento (back to web version) | Recommend to a friend August 4, 2005

The space shuttle program would seem to have nothing to do Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist’s call for dramatically expanded federal aid for embryonic stem cell research, but there are striking parallels.

Whatever NASA may claim, there’s little the shuttle can do that unmanned spaceships cannot – at much lower costs. But NASA knows what sci-fi writers always have, that we’re enamored of manned space flight. The shuttle’s main mission is maintaining the Agency’s prestige and budget.

Yet if the shuttle has had little use, ESCs so far have had none. They’ve never been tested on humans. And like the shuttle, there are far superior alternatives. Culled from numerous body tissues, these are generally called “adult stem cells.” Yet ASCs are routinely downplayed or ignored precisely because ESCs, like the shuttle, are of little value to the human race but are tremendously valuable for individual reputations and budgets.

Which brings us to Bill Frist’s break with the Bush administration, regarding more federal ESC funding (Note: one of the myths surrounding ESC research is that it currently receives no federal support, while another even claims research is illegal.)

Frist’s position is compelling, we’re told, not just because he’s the highest-ranking Senate Republican but also a physician. Actually, that makes him as much a specialist on stem cells as a plumber is on aquatic chemistry. A bit of reading will give you more knowledge about these cells than the average doctor possesses. You might learn that ASCs are CURRENTLY used in over 250 human clinical trials and are treating over 80 different diseases.

ESC researchers sniff that this is only because their field is newer, but research on both types of cell dates back to the 1950s. ESCs aren’t playing catch-up; they’re falling behind.

Oddly, although Frist is a heart transplant physician he seems clueless that some of the most exciting ASC work directly involves his field. ASCs have induced either muscle or vessel growth in human hearts in hundreds of patients worldwide. Next month, Brazil begins heart ASC experiments involving 1,200 persons.

Another myth that Frist propagated in his “breakaway” speech is that “embryonic stem cells uniquely hold specific promise for some therapies and potential cures that adult stem cells cannot provide.” In fact, ALL that ESCs have is promise. That’s why advocates feel obliged to claim they’ll eventually cure every disease from Alzheimer’s to acne. But again, had Frist done his homework he’d know that three years ago scientists began changing ASCs into ALL three types of cells the body produces.

Since then, countless labs have used various forms of ASCs to make all those cell types, but ESC advocates insist you not know this. They also go bonkers if you mention at least four different methods of creating ESCs without destroying embryos are being developed, as the June issue of Wired documents. They want that money NOW!

Ironically, the clamor for massively-increased public funding for ESCs is precisely because their practical applications, if any, lie many years in the future while those of ASCs are here and now. The media may go gaga over ESC researchers’ pie-in-the-sky claims but private investors know better. (Except when the government injects funding into ESC research, such as happened with California’s Proposition 71; huge fortunes were made or – in the case of Bill Gates – simply expanded.)

This isn’t to say ASC research NEEDS public funding either. But they could easily handle far more federal support without using it to gold-plate the operating instruments. As I’ve earlier written, prominent Harvard researcher Dr. Denise Faustman may well have found a cure for type 1 diabetes involving ASCs but cannot proceed with testing for lack of money.

Meanwhile, the federal medical research budget has virtually stopped expanding so that more spending for anything means less for other things; more for ESCs means less for ASCs. Why rob Producing Peter to pay Potential Paul?

Discussions of the morality of ESC usage are not irrelevant, but science alone makes the case against ESCs. If the technology has a fraction of the true potential its backers claim, the market will fund it. But if you’re an investor who really believes the hype, I’ve got a space shuttle to sell you.

Michael Fumento (mfumento[at]pobox.com) is author of BioEvolution: How Biotechnology Is Changing our World , a fellow at Hudson Institute, and a nationally syndicated columnist with Scripps Howard News Service.

©2005 Michael Fumento

(the article has over 20 links) Frist says ESC's hold specific promise.

Fumento says the track record favors ASC's and points out the widely censored success ASC's continue to have. He is not saying ESC's have no promise; only that they haven't shown any success. It's all about the money. Frist's course will now divert funds from research such as the possible diabetes cure. It's waiting for the same funds.

Research loves gummint munney. The promising stuff they will pursue themselves. The pie-in-the-sky miracle cure-all work needs fedfunds.

What say ye?

24 posted on 08/05/2005 11:10:37 PM PDT by skeptoid
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To: skeptoid

I hope I live to see the day when the federal government stops funding any medical research that isn't directly related to real PUBLIC health issues (i.e. airborne communicable diseases, bioterrorism, etc.). Until then, I want it making funding decisions based on science, not ideology or religion. The opposition to embryonic stem cell research is strictly ideological/religious. Nobody is forcing people who are opposed to embryonic stem cell research to donate their own embryos, or to use any treatments which may derived from this research. But my tax money is being confiscated to fund all sorts of garbage I don't agree with, so opponents of embryonic stem cell research shouldn't be exempt from paying into the general coffer that pays for all the stuff the government shouldn't be involved in.


25 posted on 08/08/2005 9:43:31 AM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: GovernmentShrinker
"The opposition to embryonic stem cell research is strictly ideological/religious."

Only if you believe science doesn't depend on empiricism and observed results of disciplined experiments. That is a hackneyed line if there ever was one. The main opposition is Fey clearly stated in the article's title. The loser is the lack of results in the quest for ESC therapies.

"But my tax money is being confiscated to fund all sorts of garbage I don't agree with, so opponents of embryonic stem cell research shouldn't be exempt from paying into the general coffer that pays for all the stuff the government shouldn't be involved in."

What are you saying???
I' not going to give you the argument you're fishing for. My opposition to federal funding of ESC research is not only because of the totally superior results of ASC, but also in the shocking proclamation that says:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--

Of course, you must accept that while the human embryo is not a "MAN", it is in fact, ....HUMAN, and you must know that the embryo needs only a cozy place to stay with regular meals to be born. This individual is the living being who has the unalienable Rights acknowledged, not granted, by the "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America" (ibid)

This is not just "stuff the government shouldn't be involved in." This is the government refuting its charter in a very literal sense.

If the dead could see us, the Founders would be "Spinning".

26 posted on 08/08/2005 9:50:20 PM PDT by skeptoid (EDST)
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