Embryonic Stem Cell Fail as Firm Goes Defunct

In 2004, Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards promised that if John Kerry won, people would rise out of their wheelchairs and walk. In the 2006 election, actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s, made a commercial for Democratic Senate candidates in which he urged voters to support those candidates who opposed restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and stood in the way of imminent miracles. Private funding, it should be noted, was never restricted.

The only thing that stood in the way of miracle cures from embryonic stem cell research miracle cures, we were told, was the pro-life movement and those wascally Republicans who were putting embryos ahead of the sick and paralyzed. As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized in 2012:

For decades now, embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) has been trumpeted as the most promising avenue of research, and those who had moral qualms about using human embryos were dismissed as Bible-thumping troglodytes who stood in the way of making the lame walk…

President George W. Bush, the first president to fund embryonic stem cell research, was one who wrestled with the moral qualms and was accused along with others of “politicizing science” for raising concerns about using human embryos created specifically for that purpose.

Federal funding of stem cell research is one of the decisions Bush covers in his book, Decision Points. On Page 117, he writes: “Embryonic stem cell research seemed to offer so much hope. Yet it raised troubling moral concerns. I wondered if it was possible to find a principled policy that advanced science while respecting the dignity of life.”

Well, there is a way, and on Monday two researchers -- one British, the other Japanese -- were awarded the Nobel Prize for finding it. John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka won this year’s prize in physiology or medicine for discovering that mature, specialized cells of the body can be reprogrammed into becoming primitive cells that are the equivalent of embryonic stem cells.

Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for the Edwards promise for embryonic stem cells to be fulfilled. Some 12 years after Edwards made his messianic claim, ESCR has proven quite literally to be a bankrupt line of research. It turns out it was the ESCR supporters who were politicizing science with the charge that opposing ESCR was a back door to repealing Roe V. Wade. ESCR opposition was merely a recognition of a better way, the use of adult stem cells, without the moral baggage.

Adult stem cells were easily obtainable and because they would come from a patient’s own body, did not suffer from the problem of rejection. ESCR cells were hard to control, sometimes leading to unfortunate and dangerous results. As detailed by Dr. David Prentice’s testimony before the Colorado Republican Study Committee last November, fetal tissue research was an “antiquated, dying science” that had long passed “its golden age in the 50s and 60s”:

Today, the Republican Study Committee of Colorado (comprised of a number of state senators and representatives) held an informational hearing on Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains

Dr. Prentice detailed just a few of the horrific results that have been documented when fetal tissue is used to treat diseases…

Fetal tissue research and transplants have “largely failed,” and the diseases “are now treated routinely with adult stem cells.”

•Studies have shown that “severe problems could develop” from fetal tissue transplant. One patient died, and his autopsy found that non-brain tissue had been growing in his brain.

•Scientists participating in the research called the results, “a real nightmare,” when they discovered that the outcomes were were “absolutely devastating and tragic.” Nearly disabling tremors were caused by the fetal tissue transplants.

•“A young boy developed tumors on his spine” as a result of a fetal tissue injection that was intended to treat him.

•Another patient developed “graft overgrowth in her brain” after being implanted with fetal tissue.

Despite Planned Parenthood’s continual claims that the harvesting of baby body parts is necessary for science, multiple scientific studies demonstrate that adult stem cells and stem cells obtained from umbilical cord blood are most successful in treating diseases such as Parkinson’s and sickle cell disease

We see the debate still raging in the Planned Parenthood controversy, with Hillary Clinton defending the harvesting and sale of harvested baby parts from abortion, a scandal unearthed by the pro-life watchdog group Center for Medical Progress, as a needed supply of tissue for scientific research. Yet the fruitlessness of such research has been shown in the decision of one embryonic stem cell research firm to wind down its operations. As Reuters reports:

StemCells Inc said it would wind down operations after the company terminated a mid-stage trial testing its therapy in spinal cord injury, sending its shares plummeting 85 percent.

The magnitude of the treatment's effect did not justify continuing the study given the financial resources available, StemCells said on Tuesday.

The Newark, California-based biotech said it had cash and cash equivalents of about $5.5 million as of May 31.

The decision comes more than six months after StemCells said its spinal-cord injury therapy showed promising results, according to interim data from the mid-stage study.

It was also twelve years after John Edwards politicized the science..Adult stem cell have been used to successfully treat actual patients, garnering a Nobel Prize in the process. Fetal research has proven to be not only a fruitless line of research but also, arguably, a fraudulent one.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.               

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