Adult Stem Cells, Cloning, Money and Politics

I heard this news item about adult stem cells on the radio today and decided I wanted to share my thoughts on it. I did look for the medical study in other sources on the net in case people didn’t trust Focus on the Family, but I was unable to find it. Maybe that’s because the finding is so new, or maybe it is because the media generally focus on embryonic stem cell research.

Anyway, in the article, Dr. Jean Peduzzi-Nelson of Wayne State University School of Medicine, says that the study:

us[ed] stem cells from nerves generated in the uppermost part of the inside of the nose.

“These cell layers referred to as olfactory mucosa are a source of adult stem-cells and also a source of other cell-types that are known to be important in repair of the spinal cord.”

Six out of seven patients regained certain muscle functions and feeling in parts of their body after treatment. The peer-reviewed Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine published the findings.

“This is just really spectacular results in patients. Most of these patients had no hope of any other further improvement.”

Now, I have posted my thoughts on cloning before, so I won’t do it again. You can go here to read them if you wish. I did find an interesting commentary on the issue by Dr. David Prentice, a professor of life sciences at Indiana State University and an adjunct professor of medical and molecular genetics at Indiana University School of Medicine on NRO, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE. Dr. Prentice, in talking about a letter that Nobel Laureates wrote to President Bush concerning the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research, talks about the advantages of using adult stem cells. NRO’s interview with him took place over five years ago. Dr. Prentice stated that the Nobel Laureates’ letter :

…promulgates the claim (made repeatedly in NIH documents) that adult stem cells do not have the same potential as embryonic stem cells, which in theory can form any tissue. But studies done with adult stem cells (studies which mirror the ones done with embryonic stem cells) DO show that adult stem cells have the capacity to form essentially any tissue.

Much of the reading I have done states that embryonic stem cells, aside from the moral issue involved in their use, have a tendency to mutate and are therefore not as dependable scientifically as they are portrayed to be. Dr. Prentice suggests that Americans need to be informed about embryonic stem cell research, and he suggests the website DO NO HARM :The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics, as a source.

Like I said, I couldn’t find the recently published findings of Dr. Peduzzi-Nelson on line, but I did find a statement that the doctor made to the U. S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation in 2004 that brought up a really good point, I thought, about why we don’t hear more about adult stem cell research:

Some people naively think that the stem cell controversy is just related to the abortion issue, political party alignment, religious beliefs, or scientific freedom. However, none of these are the driving force in the effort to promote Federal funding of human embryonic stem cells or human cloning. The most profitable, not the best, treatment for people is being promoted. The main reason for the current emphasis on human embryonic stem cells and cloning is money. The old statement of ‘follow the money’ explains many of the statements made regarding this controversy. It is a superior business plan to have a mass-produced product such as embryonic/fetal/cloned stem cells that can be sold nationwide and have patentable intellectual property . Cloned stem cells derived from embryos with genetic defects represent the possibility of millions in patentable stem cell lines. Adult stem cell therapies are much better for people with diseases or injuries but generate an inferior business plan. In the case of adult stem cells where, in most cases, a person’s own cells can be used, one can only develop a procedure that is generally not patentable according to new patent laws. However, the embryonic/fetal/cloned stem cells can lead to tremendous profits in the short run. Proof of this is the millions of dollars furnished by venture capitalists to help pass a measure that would provide $3 billion for stem cell research in California. 2. Checks and balances in the form of public policy are needed in society to control greed, especially in those cases where the greater good of the people will be served.

Dr. Peduzzi-Nelson goes on to give examples of successful use of the olfactory mucosa cells mentioned in today’s news. The doctor’s scientific opinion is that there needs to be:

…further research into the less profitable, but more beneficial, direction of adult stem cells. Further work is needed to improve this technique, with the addition of other treatments including a rehabilitation program that will maximize the functional improvement.

The good doctor has done a lot of research, and it seems to me that the date generated by that research is worthy of consideration by those we have elected to represent us. The bottom line is NOT money.

Or at least it shouldn’t be.


1 Response to “Adult Stem Cells, Cloning, Money and Politics”

  1. 1 vikki hull November 9, 2006 at 9:10 pm

    I have a copy of the article you are referring to…If you would like a copy you can email me.

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