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Rationalizing the Stem Cell Debate

By Jack Barber, The Cheboygan Daily Tribune, December 7, 2007

Stem cell research, particularly the type involving embryos, has been a hot topic responsible for a high amount of writing, discussion, and media attention as of late.

With the power to repair and even replace damaged tissue and cells, stem cells, although very meager in looks, are the most remarkable building blocks in our bodies.

Stem cells which have been derived from sources which include blood, bone marrow, fat, umbilical cord blood, nerves, adult tissue, and even the pulp of baby teeth have amassed data; proving their success in the treatment of numerous conditions and diseases.

These cells are often called "adult stem cells". Heart damage, Parkinson's Disease, spinal cord injury, autism, diabetes are among the nearly 80 conditions which have been successfully treated using these adult cells.

In fact, since the active ingredient in the bone marrow is stem cells, thousands of lives have been saved by adult stem cells in the form of bone marrow transplants for leukemia and other illnesses alone.

A stem cell can make any number of cells with more specialized functions, or make a copy of itself. The cell starts as an unspecified cell and changes when it divides.

For example, depending on what the body needs, white bloods cells, red blood cells, or other kinds can be created from just one type of stem cell in the human blood.

To this day, not one single human patient has ever been cured or successfully treated with embryonic stem cells, thus, it is a wonder why there is so much hype surrounding embryonic stem cell research. Especially given the fact that adult stem cells have produced such gleaming results thus far. and will undoubtedly continue to do so well into the future.

Embryonic stem cell are not only ineffective, but dangerous. In animal tests, subjects have experienced immune system rejection, formed lethal tumors, and displayed genetic instability.

At the expense of advancing adult stem cell research, why does the media, culture, and society continually support embryonic stem cell research? The scientific validity of adult stem cell being vastly superior to embryonic cells is undeniable.

The answer is green.

Money, and extremely large amounts of it are floating around embryonic stem cell research. The ongoing attempts to obtain our tax dollars for this purpose, the billions that are already invested privately, even the basic cost of donated eggs for embryonic research; all this money has been wasted thus far at the expense of advancing and producing more treatments that save human lives.

However, the current querulous embryonic stem cell debate may soon be at an end thanks to the recent announcements by Japan's Shinya Yamanaka and James A. Thomson at the University of Wisconsin. The two scientists made two separate discoveries involving skin cells. They were able to produce embryonic stem cell equivalents without the use of an embryo.

Why continue research on such a controversial issue when such an important breakthrough has been made? Embryonic stem cell research should be a non-issue at this point.


 

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