Thursday, December 16, 2004

Scientific Truth from IBD

During the campaign, Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards promised voters that if they voted for running mate John Kerry, “people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.”
Kerry himself pledged to end President Bush’s alleged “ban” on stem cell research — the only thing, it seemed, standing between us and a series of medical breakthroughs. Not so.
The same day, studies were published showing umbilical cord blood — and the stem cells it includes — could save the lives of many adults with leukemia who can’t find bone marrow donors.
Song Chang-Hoon, professor at South Korea’s Chosun University’s medical school, told of Hwang Mi-Soon, a 37-year-old paraplegic who, after being paralyzed for 20 years, was able to rise from her wheelchair and take a few halting steps with a walker. Six weeks earlier she had a transplant using umbilical cord blood stem cells.
Using cord blood could improve the odds of getting a transplant for the 16,000 U.S. adult leukemia patients each year who can’t find a compatible marrow donor, according to Dr. Mary J. Laughlin, the U.S. study’s leader. There are 4 million births a year in this country and most cord blood, which contains stem cells capable of developing into every type of blood cell, is thrown away.

Liberal media have made this an ideological rather than scientific debate by ignoring the demonstrable promise of and progress made in adult stem cell research. They’ve overhyped “good” embryonic stem cell research vs. “bad” adult stem cell research.
Truth is, most progress in stem cell research is being made using the adult rather than the embryonic variety. Yet the media largely ignores that fact, while portraying opponents of embryonic stem cell research as heartless Bible-thumpers prolonging human suffering.
Adult stem cells have been used therapeutically since the 1980s, and there are almost 80 therapies using them — actual treatments, not theory or research. More than 250 adult stem cell clinical trials have taken place using adult stem cells. There are zero treatments using embryonic stem cells and there have been zero clinical trials.
Yes, more research needs to be done and such research needs to be peer-reviewed and replicated. But you can bet that if Hwang Mi-Soon had been treated with embryonic stem cells, we’d have heard about it.

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