Stem Cell Promises vs. Stem Cell Results

Joseph Ashby
In early December, the Obama administration approved 33 new embryonic stem cell lines (WaPo story here). For the left, embryonic testing has become a secular version of touching the hem of Christ’s garment -- the instant, miraculous, and consequence-free cure to all ailments. With $21 million of our tax dollars in funding, and potentially billions more to follow, the “first wave” of testing has begun.

Meanwhile, the advances in non-embryonic (or adult) stem cell research continue to pile up. The latest news coming from the UK’s Daily Mail:

Andrew Kent's right leg broke in five places when a large boulder fell on him as he climbed with his son in the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District in April.
He was taken to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle where he underwent three operations to pin the bones back together.

When the wound became seriously infected he was transferred to the private Spire Alexandra Hospital in Chatham, Kent.

There, orthopedic surgeon Anan Shetty performed the revolutionary new treatment for the first time in Britain by removing stem cells from the bone marrow in Mr Kent's hip and mixing them with a new collagen gel called Cartifill.

The paste it formed was then smeared into the fractures before his leg was placed in a metal cage to gently squeeze the bones back together.

The cage was removed at the beginning of this month - six months after the stem cell procedure - and surgeons believe he will be able to climb again in the future.

At this point the difference between embryonic and adult stem cell treatments is the difference between fairly tale and reality.

Embryonic stem cells are sort of an analogy for the President who ordered their new funding: all promises, no results.

In early December, the Obama administration approved 33 new embryonic stem cell lines (WaPo story here). For the left, embryonic testing has become a secular version of touching the hem of Christ’s garment -- the instant, miraculous, and consequence-free cure to all ailments. With $21 million of our tax dollars in funding, and potentially billions more to follow, the “first wave” of testing has begun.

Meanwhile, the advances in non-embryonic (or adult) stem cell research continue to pile up. The latest news coming from the UK’s Daily Mail:

Andrew Kent's right leg broke in five places when a large boulder fell on him as he climbed with his son in the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District in April.
He was taken to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle where he underwent three operations to pin the bones back together.

When the wound became seriously infected he was transferred to the private Spire Alexandra Hospital in Chatham, Kent.

There, orthopedic surgeon Anan Shetty performed the revolutionary new treatment for the first time in Britain by removing stem cells from the bone marrow in Mr Kent's hip and mixing them with a new collagen gel called Cartifill.

The paste it formed was then smeared into the fractures before his leg was placed in a metal cage to gently squeeze the bones back together.

The cage was removed at the beginning of this month - six months after the stem cell procedure - and surgeons believe he will be able to climb again in the future.

At this point the difference between embryonic and adult stem cell treatments is the difference between fairly tale and reality.

Embryonic stem cells are sort of an analogy for the President who ordered their new funding: all promises, no results.