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Public Confused About Adult and Embryonic Stem Cells

By Stephen Hayford, Times Union, June 1, 2007

In a letter published on May 22nd, a man named Greg equated embryonic stem cell research and adult stem cell research. The difference could not be more apparent and thus a correction is in order.

Few news stories today present the two types accordingly and instead fail to distinguish the significant differences between the two. It is crucial to understand the difference and the media has perhaps contributed to the confusion today.

The most important distinction to make is that unlike embryonic stem cell treatment, adult stem cell treatment is effective. As a result of adult stem cell research, more than 70 existing medical treatments have been developed. Even one simple treatment has yet to be yielded as a result of embryonic stem cell research.

Contrary to the comments made in Greg's letter, the statement "great future potential" can be tied exclusively to adult stem cell research, not embryonic.

The second important point to make note of is the ethical nature of adult stem cells. Without causing harm to anyone, the placenta at birth, umbilical cord blood, and other types of non-embryonic tissue, are all sources of adult stem cells. However, without destroying human embryos, embryonic stem cells cannot be obtained.


 

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