Still confused by the stem cell debate? Don’t feel alone. Medical professionals and the public alike still have many questions about the different types, or sources, of stem cells as well as their potential and actual effectiveness for clinical treatments.
Embryonic stem cells continue to receive the majority of news coverage, yet remain the least likely stem cell to help patients. In fact, even the embryonic stem cell advocates are beginning to admit failure. The California company Geron, first to receive approval to inject embryonic stem cells into a few patients, gave up on their trial and shut down all of their embryonic stem cell research. After a year, none of the patients showed improvements, though they will need to be monitored for many years to come for potential tumor formation. Even celebrity stem cell promoter Michael J. Fox recently admitted that “[embryonic] stem cells” were unlikely to help any patients any time soon. Given that embryonic stem cells are ethically tainted, requiring the destruction of young human life or even creating a new human life via cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer) specifically for destruction, it’s heartening that many are seeing the many problems associated with this type of stem cell.
The newer technology of iPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) has been increasingly in the news lately, as an ethical alternative to embryonic stem cells. The iPS cells are made by adding a few genes to a normal cell such as a skin cell, causing the normal cell to look and act like an embryonic stem cell, yet without any use of embryos, eggs, or cloning technology. Even though iPS cells use an adult cell (not a stem cell) as their starting material, they are definitely not “adult stem cells,” but rather an ethically-derived version of embryonic stem cells. They can be made from any person, starting with almost any normal cell and have been used to model cell growth and development in the lab. They may also serve as disease models in the lab, allowing scientists to investigate how some diseases develop. Recently, Israeli scientists made iPS cells from heart patients, then turned the iPS cells into beating heart cells in the lab, to study heart disease.
Adult stem cells remain the only type of stem cell used successfully to treat human patients. They are the one and only gold standard for clinical treatments with stem cells. Adult stem cells have many advantages. They can be isolated from numerous tissues, including bone marrow, muscle, fat, and umbilical cord blood, just to name a few. And isolating the adult stem cells from tissues of a patient or a healthy donor does not require harming or destroying the donor, giving adult stem cells a decided ethical advantage over embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells also have a proven track record for success at saving lives and improving health on a daily basis. Over 50,000 people around the globe are treated each year with adult stem cells. The diseases and conditions successfully treated by adult stem cells, as shown by published scientific evidence, continue to expand, with published success for numerous cancers, spinal cord injury, heart damage, multiple sclerosis, sickle cell anemia, and many others.
Here are a few samples of adult stem cell advances in the last year.
If you’d like to see a few more samples of the tremendous success of adult stem cells, see the videos at www.stemcellresearchfacts.org
Dr. David A. Prentice is Senior Fellow for Life Sciences at the Family Research Council. He and his wife live in Maryland.
More Stem Cell/Cloning Articles
Adult Stem Cell Treatments Move Ahead, Embryonic Stem Cells Fall Farther Behind
Still confused by the stem cell debate? Don’t feel alone. Medical professionals and the public alike still have many questions about the different types, or sources, of stem...December 5th, 2012
CLR's Official Positions and Thoughts to Ponder on Life and Family Issues
Abortion Human life exists already at conception. It is a gift from God. He also reserves for himself the authority to take human life. Aborting an unborn child for any reason,...December 5th, 2012
Basic Terminology on Stem Cell Research
As with most professions, medicine uses many unfamiliar or complicated terms. The following is designed to help you understand some of the terminology used in discussions about stem...January 10th, 2012
For It or Against It? - A Look at Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Stem cell research has been called the holy grail of modern medical research. With its “potential” applications in the cure of cancer, healing of spinal cord injuries...January 10th, 2012
Creating a Market For Embryos
Those in the pro-life movement often use the term, “the slippery slope.” This “slope” not only refers to logical connections in a course of action (i.e.,...January 10th, 2012
The Conscience Side of Life
Simply speaking, Christian Life Resources divides its work into two areas – service and conscience. The service area involves the work we do in our counseling centers, the...January 9th, 2012
Predictions in Bioethics for 2011
Each year, the Center for Bioethics and Culture asks me to prognosticate about the coming 12 months in bioethics. My record was pretty good for 2010. But the CBC refuses to let...December 16th, 2010
Too Many Eggs
Editor’s Note: The Dickey-Wicker Amendment, a provision passed by Congress annually since 1996, prohibits the use of federal funds to support research “in which human embryos...July 13th, 2009
A Primer on Human Cloning
Cloning moved from the arena of movie-scripting to reality in 1997. It was in that year that Nature journal (Nature 385, 810-13, 1997) announced Scottish scientists had cloned a sheep...April 16th, 2009
A Primer on Stem Cell Research
Stem cells are considered foundational building blocks for human beings. There are essentially four kinds of stem cells that scientists consider to hold the potential to ease human...March 17th, 2009
Things to Consider'A Peek Behind the Screen' -- CLR Statement on Abortion and the Conviction of Abortionist Kermit Gosnell
CLR NOTE: Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted May 13, 2013, on three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of unborn babies whose spines were cut during late-term...more...
Would a friend, relative, or acquaintance find a particular page or article useful? Fill out the form below to send it to a friend!
Please fill out the small form below to leave a comment or suggestion about the page you were just visiting. Any and all feedback is appreciated! Your feedback will help make our website even better.