Monday, August 01, 2005

Stem Cell Research Revisited

With the recent revelation that Senator Bill Frist (R) Tenn, has reversed himself on the funding of Stem Cell research some Republican politicians are left scratching their collective heads, and Democrats are rejoicing.

I can't pretend to know why he flipped flopped on this issue, particuarly since we know he is a doctor, in addition to being a Senator. I think he is "pulling a Hillary", that is, moving closer to the center in preparation for a run for president. This makes sense to me considering what we now know about stem cell research, particuarly the rising popularity of Adult stem cell research.

Some time back, I posted this article on my blog, which garnered very few comments from readers. My blog wasn't getting many readers at the time, but some of my regular readers will no doubt remember this. It will be a shame if Mr. Frist doesn't remember it. In fact, I found the article on Poison Pero's blog :

Adult Stem Cell Breakthrough Ignored

Scientists at Australia's Griffith University have engineered a breakthrough in the field of adult stem cell research that's so significant, say experts, that it could render the debate over embryonic stem cell research moot.

The results of the four-year research project showed that olfactory stem cells can be turned into heart cells, brain cells, nerve cells, indeed, almost any kind of cell in the body without the problems of rejection or tumors forming, a common side effect with embryonic stem cells.

The poorly funded Griffith University team which conducted its research with a mere $200,000 in grants appears to have found a direct and non-controversial alternative to the use of stem cells derived from leftover embryos created during fertility treatment, reported the Australian newspaper.
"Our experiments have shown adult stem cells isolated from the olfactory mucosa have the ability to develop into many different cell types if they are given the right chemical or cellular environment," research team leader Alan Mackay-Sim told the paper.

Mackay-Sim's team of scientists managed to grow nerve cells, glial cells, liver cells, heart cells and muscle cells from cells harvested from the human nose.

The breakthrough, first announced two months ago, has been largely ignored by the U.S. media, which has focused on embryonic stem cell research as the only option to cure debilitating ailments like Hodgkin's, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

As a result of the lopsided press coverage, California voters passed a $6 billion referendum to fund embryonic stem cell research last November, with similar programs proposed around the U.S. - though embryonic stem cell research has yet to show any significant medical progress.

In Australia, however, the medical community is excited over Mackay-Sim's adult stem cell breakthrough.

Brisbane neurologist Peter Silburn, a member of Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council, said the fact that researchers have been able to take adult stem cells from patients with Parkinson's disease and turn them into neurons shows great promise.

"We can now learn about the condition in ways we never could before," Silburn told the Australian.

Unlike embryonic stem cells, which reportedly can trigger tumors in one in five cases at the point of injection, adult stem cells grow in a controlled fashion and don't revert to their original tissue form.

Another significant benefit: Because adult stem cells can be harvested from the patient, there's no risk of the body rejecting them as alien, eliminating the need for immune system-suppressing drugs.

Still, two months after Australia's adult stem cell breakthrough was first announced, it has played little or no role in the ongoing U.S. debate over government funding for embryonic stem cell research.

"One of the complicating factors is that a lot of people have a lot of money tied up in embryonic stem cells," noted Australia's Catholic Archbishop George Pell, who helped secure funding for the Mackay-Sim project.

In light of this research, it boggles the mind that anyone would continue to fight for the funding of stem cell research from babies. Oh, By the way, let me add here, the fight over stem cell research currently going on in Congress is not over the research itself, but over whether the Government should fund the research, especially the harvesting of stem cells from embryonic tissue.

The chief objection to this is that opponents are afraid that unborn babies will be aborted for the express purpose of harvesting their stem cells. I would like to think, as "civilized" human beings that no one would be that heartless.

But then, I remember Ted Kennedy drowned Mary Jo.


Poison Pero said...

Thanks for the link Mark.......Here's the link to this specific article

It's too bad many scientists have no ethics, because scientific advancements are wonderful, and necessary.

The problem is the Mengelians insist on playing God in their attempt to disprove Him.

Lores Rizkalla said...

Great job! We need to get more of this info out.

"Heartless" is exactly what this is. And, yes Pero, it's scary when people (esp. those who don't believe in God) start playing God.

tugboatcapn said...

The Stem Cell debate is basically the pro-life/pro-choice debate in another form.
If one believes that any mass of cells which would, if allowed to, develop into a Human Being, is actually human and deserving of it's right to life, then the idea of harvesting it's tissue for any purpose is morally repugnant.
However, if one views this cell mass as only a mass of cells, then to deny anyone who is alive whatever benifit that could be realized from the utilization of these cells, is equally unacceptable.
Basically those who favor Embryonic Stem Cell research believe that if the destruction of 100 human Embryos will help 1 seventy five year old man, then it would have been worth it.
Those who oppose it believe in the potential of the human embryo to become a fully functional scientist who may (if allowed to live,) think up another solution which would not include the destruction of a human being, at whatever stage of development.
I personally have no problem with scientists experimenting with Embryos left over from fertility treatments, however, I don't want my tax dollars paying for it.
By the way,there has only been one President in the history of America to actually fund Stem Cell research, and that President was George W. Bush.

Toad734 said...

No one wants to do it on babies; they are called Blastocysts which are only around 100 cells, a step up from a zygote but still a pre- utero embryo, i.e. not a baby.

I have never seen a baby without a nervous system, brain, heartbeat, limbs, eyes, sex organs etc.

Mark said...

Too bad Toads mom didn't believe in abortion.

Lone Ranger said...

Nobody is restricting research on stem cells. Researchers can do their experiments to their heart's content. They can ship fetuses all over the country, they can shower in stem cells, wallow in stem cells. They just can't do it on the government dime. I would think that if stem cell research were as important as researchers say it is, private companies would be falling all over each other to dump research money into this area. After all, if stem cell research is the end-all of medical research, imagine the profits there are to be made. So, why aren't the private companies pouring financing into this research? Why can't they do it without our tax dollars?

Toad734 said...

RE: Lone ranger

They are.

If we can fund Faith Based initiative brainwashing teenagers into Christian fundamentalists and we can subsidize corn syrup, and all the rich fortune 500 corporations, I think we can support research on something that may be able to regenerate organs.

However, if we pull funding from these and others such as logging and mining companies, then sure maybe the government shouldn't fund it and just leave the people who want to do it alone.

After all we are all going to need new livers after eating years of subsidized corn syrup.

Mark said...

OK Lone Ranger. I went to your blogs and checked them out and I was extremely impressed. I wanted to leave a comment or two expressing my approval but you don't allow comments. Why?

Lone Ranger said...

Mark, I turned off comments because even I have feelings. I was getting the most vicious, hateful, profane, stupid, downright demonic messages that I felt it necessary to just block the evil that was trying to intrude into my life. Michelle Malkin has her comments switched off for the same reason. I keep an e-mail address open that can be used when I post on other blogs, but that's the only nitch in my armor.

Lone Ranger said...

Toad, people are not corn syrup. The tradeoff of a life for a life is not acceptable to this president. And the primary job of a leader should be to lead according to his principles. As for funding all those other things, 95% of what the federal government funds is unconstitutional and should be stopped. The federal government should not give a single nickle to any private person or group. The income tax should be abolished and we should be allowed as private citizens to donate money to any project we wish.