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Biomedical Ethics in a Brave, New World

Ken Camp, Baptist Standard, May 7, 2010

Dennis Trammell Pastor of the First Baptist Church at Possum Kingdom Lake, near Graford was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 when his vision decreased in one eye, a symptom of multiple sclerosis called optic neuritis. Over the years he has been receiving numerous conventional medications that dealt with the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. However in July 2008, his illness advanced to the secondary progressive phase of the disease. Having no treatment options available, two months later, he went to the Cellmedicine clinic to receive adult stem cell therapy.

To date over 200 patients with multiple sclerosis have been treated with adult stem cells by Cellmedicine. Adult stem cells such as those derived from the patient's own fat have the ability to help the nervous system heal itself from damage, as well as "reprogram" the immune system to stop attacking the body. This is explained in a scientific publication that Cellmedicine and collaborators from the University of California San Diego have written and is explained in this video

Alluding to the controversy surrounding stem cells, which was particularly relevant to Pastor Trammell, he stated, "I really questioned before agreeing to take part in the treatments what type of stem cells were used". Several stem cell clinics use fetal-derived stem cells. Pastor Trammell highly objected to this possibility based on moral principal. From a medical perspective fetal stem cells are dangerous given the possibility of cancer formation. Accordingly, he was pleased to learn that that Cellmedicine clinic uses only stem cells from adult sources.

The Pastor reports a significant increase in his energy level, "I had gotten to the point where a nap was needed on a regular basis. But since the treatment, a daily nap is no longer needed," he said. Other multiple sclerosis patients treated at Cellmedicine have reported similar beneficial effects. Holly Huber from San Diego suffered from loss of balance, incontinence, fatigue and like Pastor Trammell, optic neuritis. Here is a video of Holly describing her story

The issue of using stem cells is considered by many stakeholders in the religious community. "We're still dealing with the age-old question: "Given what can be done, ought we?' But the list of 'can-do' options in health care get longer each day; hence, also the 'ought' questions and the complexities of knowing right from wrong, good from bad," said Tarris Rosell, professor at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Rosemary Flanigan Chair in the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Mo.

However, it seems like adult stem cells are not only acceptable, but in some cases endorsed as an alternative to embryonic stem cells. This is highlighted by the recent funding of adult stem cell research by the Vatican

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