Friday, July 2, 2004

Stem cell research good, embryonic stem cell harvesting bad

This is a letter to the editor by a professor of life sciences. It captures nicely not only the fact that most public discourse irresponsibly collapses all stem cell science into embryonic stem cell harvesting, but also why this a bad move, even on simply scientific grounds.

Chicago Tribune | No justification to fund embryonic research

David Prentice, Professor of Life Sciences
Indiana State University
Published July 1, 2004

Terre Haute, Ind. --

Jose Javier Otero of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine argued that embryonic stem-cell research offers a promising future while adult stem cells are a myth ("Voice of the people, June 22). ...

It is simply incorrect to assert that adult stem cells are not capable to become any tissue in the body. ...

The most noteworthy of several published papers indicating the extensive transforming abilities of adult stem cells is by Catherine Verfaillie's research group at the University of Minnesota. Her research showed (using the same gold standard experiment used for embryonic stem cells) that a type of bone marrow stem cell called MAPC could generate every tissue in the body. ...

One of the major difficulties with embryonic stem cells is how to direct them into becoming differentiated and thus suitable for transplant.

Most studies show production of the cells result in a mixture of cell types (rather than producing the one cell type needed) and consequently are totally unsuitable for transplant [not to mention they tend to become tumors -- EBB].

The government has invested in this research, with the Bush administration pouring in more than $20 million to date.

In fact, animal embryonic stem-cell research has been open to funding for more than 20 years, yet there is still little to show for the investments. ...

No comments: