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The Great Stem Cell Coverup

Wesley J. Smith

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Promising medical research you never hear about.

It has been repeated so often that it is now a mantra: "Embryonic stem cells offer the most promise for finding cures" for degenerative diseases and conditions such as Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injury. But saying something ten thousand times doesn't make it true. Indeed, the embryonic stem cell mantra has yet to be demonstrated scientifically.

More than that, the actual data published to date in peer-reviewed science journals tell a far different story. While there have certainly been successes in embryonic stem cell experiments in animal studies--many of them hyped to the hilt in mainstream media reports--the numbers pale in comparison with the many research advances being made with adult and umbilical cord blood stem cells, which are already being used in human patients.

Based on the published science, there are 72 maladies for which human patients have received some benefit (which is not the same as being "cured") from adult stem cell or umbilical cord blood interventions. Meanwhile, embryonic stem cells have yet to demonstrate any human therapeutic use.

This is not to say that embryonic stem cells don't have genuine scientific value. Researchers are excited about the prospect of gaining a more fundamental understanding of developmental biology by experimenting on embryonic stem cells, for example. And embryonic stem cells may well have the capacity to treat human diseases. But to win the current political debate over federal funding of embryo-destructive research, many supporters have made extravagant claims about pending cures. In their zeal, they forget to mention that embryonic stem cells cannot be used safely in human beings at present because of worries over tissue rejection and their demonstrated propensity in animal studies to cause deadly tumors--problems not associated with adult stem cell therapies.

Read the entire article on the Weekly Standard website (new window will open).

Posted: 08-Aug-06



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