As much attention as the GOP’s pro-life plank is getting, the media completely ignored language that would have been headline news two conventions ago.
Adult stem cell research–once the culture war of the Bush years–has so thoroughly dominated its embryonic competition in human trials that the debate has almost disappeared from the public eye. That was even more obvious this week, as Republicans recommitted themselves to ethical research that’s racking up successful treatments on everything from heart disease to leukemia.
“We support and applaud adult stem cell research to develop lifesaving therapies, and we oppose the killing of embryos for their stem cells,” the platform states. “We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.”
Also included, at the urging of FRC Action, was language calling for “a major expansion of support for the stem-cell research that now shows amazing promise and offers the greatest hope for scores of diseases with adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and cells reprogrammed into pluripotent stem [iPS] cells without the destruction of embryonic human life.”
Since iPS cells appeared on the scene in 2007, the research has virtually exploded. By functioning like human embryos, iPS cells give scientists all of the benefits of embryonic research without the ethical headache. Meanwhile the oft-ignored successes of adult stem cells have left the competition in the dust–with more than 80 patient treatments recorded in medical literature. But despite the lack of success in clinics and labs, life-destroying embryonic stem cell research still rakes in millions of taxpayer dollars.
Today, scientists are desperate for that federal support since most private investors are pulling up stakes and heading for the exciting world of iPS and adult stem cells. Even prominent embryonic stem cell donors, like actor Michael J. Fox, whose foundation sank more than $300 million in the cause, have started looking beyond embryonic hype for real hope and cures. In an interview with Diane Sawyer earlier this year, Fox said the answer to his disease “is more likely to come from another area.”
Clearly, that area is adult stem cells–which are already light years ahead on Fox’s Parkinson’s disease. In 2009, scientists reported the results of treating a Parkinson’s patient with his own adult stem cells–wowing experts with news that he had gone almost five years without symptoms.
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Tuesday, researchers announced that they’re following up amazing breakthroughs like that one with a groundbreaking autism trial. California’s Sutter Neuroscience Institute in Sacramento hopes to tackle the condition, which now affects one in every 88 children, with umbilical cord stem cells.
Experts believe that releasing those cells into the bloodstream of autistic kids–a model they tested on children with cerebral palsy–could help them overcome some of the debilitating effects. “Cord blood stem cells may offer ways to modulate or repair the immune systems of these patients who have no obvious reason to become autistic,” says Dr. Michael Chez. It’s an exciting new venture that, once again, puts the GOP on the right side of history with important, life-saving research.
LifeNews Note: Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council.