Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cutting Through the Bullshit

The bullshit is flying fast and free as far as the embryonic stem cell issue is concerned. Even Jim Caviezel has weighed in on the issue (in mumbled Aramaic at that), saying, "You betray the Son of Man with a kiss."

Evidently, Caviezel has confounded the fact that he played the Son of God with the notion that he is the Son of God.

Mind you, I am a practicing Roman Catholic but I have to disagree with the church on this matter. The embryos used are from already-fertilized eggs that will be destroyed in an autoclave if they are not used for research. In point of fact, they are not even embryos yet, they are blastocysts.

The Biblical definition of life is in Genesis 9:3-4
3Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

4But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

Thus the life is in the blood, and at 8 cells, there is no blood yet.

The next problem with the religious right is that they say that there are no cures for any disease from embryonic stem cells, which is patently false. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have concluded a trial that has:
For the first time, stem cell researchers at the University of Minnesota have coaxed human embryonic stem cells to create cancer-killing cells in the laboratory, paving the way for future treatments for various types of cancers (or tumors). The research will be published in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of Immunology.

Researchers generated "natural killer" cells from the human embryonic stem cells. As part of the immune system, natural killer cells normally are present in the blood stream and are play a role in defending the body against infection and against some cancers.

"This is the first published research to show the ability to make cells from human embryonic stem cells that are able to treat and fight cancer, especially leukemias and lymphomas," said Dan Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine in the Stem Cell Institute and Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the study.

"We hear a lot about the potential of stem cells to treat conditions such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease. This research suggests it is possible that we could use human embryonic stem cells as a source for immune cells that could better target and destroy cancer cells and potentially treat infections," Kaufman added.

The results also provided the researchers with a model of how the immune system develops.
So we now know more about how the immune system functions as well as finding a new treatment for cancer. This research was done on two of the stem cell lines that fall under the federal funding guideline, so your taxpayer dollars went toward funding this project. Aren't you proud of the accomplishment of our scientists, or do you want to run back to the Stone Age?

The last bit of bullshit is that there are 65 (or 72) diseases that can be treated with adult or cord blood stem cells. Actually, that number is severely inflated - there are only nine diseases that have emerged from the required clinical trials. That's an abysmal 14% of treatments. More can come later and I fully support all research into this area.

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