Stem Cells

Stem Cells: cells that upon division replace their own numbers and also give rise to cells that differentiate further into one or more specialized types. Posts in this category pertain to the moral, ethical, legal, scientific, and philosophical matters regarding the use of adult and embryonic stem cells in research and treatement.

Not In My Name

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

With all due respect, Ms. Mitchell, you don't speak for this Missourian:

In opening arguments, one lawyer said the wording also conforms to the popular definition of human cloning held by voters.

"Missourians do not believe that a few hundred cells are a cloned human being," said Karen King Mitchell, Missouri's chief deputy attorney general.

The linked St. Louis Post-Dispatch article discusses today's ruling on the wording of a proposed Missouri ballot initiative to allow embryonic stem cell research in the state. The initiative is being pushed by the ironically and hypocritically named Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures. As will essentially every other proponent of embryonic stem cell (ESR) research, the coalition makes no attempt to differentiate between adult and embryonic stem cell research, nor to point out that ESR has thus far produced not one viable therapy or cure, nor to point out that, no matter how it is named, the result of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) - otherwise known as "therapeutic" cloning - is, in fact, an embryo. When SCNT is used with a human egg and human DNA, the result is a human embryo.

The key issue with the ballot summary opposition, to me, is the following discrepancy:

The measure would ensure that all stem cell research legal under federal law would remain legal in Missouri. It also states "that no person may clone or attempt to clone a human being."

Critics sued, saying the ballot title for the measure inaccurately states that it would ban human cloning. They say the measure would actually allow a controversial procedure call somatic cell nuclear transfer, which they equate with cloning.

SCNT is not "equated" with cloning, it is cloning - even according to the coalition's own FAQ:

SCNT is sometimes called "therapeutic cloning" because it will use a patient's own cell to make stem cells used for disease therapies.

The coalition - much like most other ESC research proponents - goes to great lengths to attempt to differentiate between "therapeutic" and "reproductive" cloning and argue that only "reproductive" cloning is actually "cloning".

The bottom line is, no matter how much ESC research attempt to redefine the terms, the result of SCNT of a human egg and human DNA is a human embryo. Those ostensibly in support of "lifesaving" cures propose to research those (as yet unproven) cures at the expense of a human life - no matter how many, or how few, cells constitute that life.

Government-Propogated Stem Cell Obfuscation

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

You know, I generally like the web site as a decent roundup of recent studies and information. I don't, however, like it when this government-maintained web site propogates the unnecessary and agenda-driven obfuscation of the stem-cell issue:

TUESDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- What had once seemed a giant leap for science has turned out to be not even the smallest of steps -- for now.

Seoul National University's announcement Tuesday that all of Dr. Hwang Woo-suk's apparently groundbreaking research in human stem cells was faked closes a bitter chapter in the quest to find more and better remedies for human illnesses.

Hwang's only legitimate claim is having cloned the world's first dog, Snuppy.

For those who have pinned their professional and personal hopes on stem cells, the shocking disclosure means this area of research is headed back to square one.

"We're back to the beginning in terms of trying to achieve somatic cell nuclear transfer," said Dr. Susan Okie, a contributing editor with the New England Journal of Medicine.

For the uninitiated, "somatic cell nuclear transfer" (SCNT) is the technical term otherwise known as "therapeutic cloning" - in other words, embryonic stem cell research. The article, however, makes no mention of the differentiation of types of stem cells, nor that adult stem cell research has already delievered many bona fide treatments and therapies (as of July 2005, the stem-cell scorecard reads: Adult 65, Embryonic 0).

The article's out-of-context doom-and-gloom continues:

Research is being reset to "where we were before, where using somatic cell nuclear transfer to derive stem cells is only a theoretical possibility," added David Magnus, director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethnics. "We're hopeful, but whether it's possible and how long it's going to take is something that is now a complete unknown. This really is a setback in a lot of ways."

The setback is not a death knell for the field, however, experts predicted.

"I think these kinds of experiments will succeed," said Dr. Darwin Prockop, director of the Center for Gene Therapy at Tulane University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. "They will eventually succeed, and perhaps sometime soon."

While SCNT researchers remain "hopeful" that "these kinds of experiments... will eventually succeed", adult and cord-blood stem-cell therapies already succeed, and without the ethical implications or thus-far false hope of embryonic stem cell research:

Leading proponents of research on embryonic stem cells are themselves lowering expectations that dramatic cures to diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s are just around the corner. The Guardian newspaper recently reported that Lord Winston, the most prominent embryonic-stem-cell researcher in the United Kingdom, said that hopes for cures had been distorted by arrogance and spin.

“I view the current wave of optimism about embryonic stem cells with growing suspicion,” Winston told the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Similarly, South Korean cloning expert Curie Ahn now warns that scientists won’t be able to develop cures from embryonic stem cells for three to five more decades. In experiment after experiment, scientists are learning that embryonic stem cells are too carcinogenic or “wild” for therapeutic purposes.

Back to the article, more mis-information:

The damage to the public's perception of stem cell research is likely to linger, Prokop added: "Every time you say stem cell for a while, people will think 'fraud.'"

Nevertheless, stem cell research with the potential for real breakthroughs continues...

The article's one "more information" source link is to the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), hardly an unbiased source, as ISSCR are ardent supporters of embryonic stem cell research, and their FAQ discounts adult stem cell research as well as the already proven therapies from adult stem cell research.

Pro-Life = “Culture of Death”?

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Methinks this emailer mis-directed her email-based disdain:

The culture of death is you. You have no regard for the lives of living, suffering people. A cell is not a person, but I and millions of others are and our blood is on your hands.

You are cruel, callous, and very evil. Your God will not judge you kindly.

Ovarian cancer survivor, Parkinson's Disease prisoner for 10 years

For reference, this email was sent to, whose stated objective is as follows:

The objective of this site is to raise awareness and support for the pre-born and the sanctity of human life by communicating pro-life news and materials and by enabling a community of pro-life bloggers to promote their sites, interact with one another and influence internet readers.

Now, I'm quite sure our vitriolic emailer simply misdirected her missive, having intended to send it instead to Senate Democrats who tried to block a cord blood measure passed overwhelmingly by the house. I'm sure our emailer has not been taken in by the hype surrounding the completely unproven embryonic stem cell research, versus the already proven adult stem cell therapies.

But, in case I'm wrong, how about we give our misguided emailer a reality check, shall we?