Embryonic Stem Cell Research Won’t Help Alzheimer’s Patients Soon

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 27, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Won’t Help Alzheimer’s Patients Soon

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 27, 2004

Boston, MA (LifeNews.com) — Ron Reagan will talk about the supposed benefits of embryonic stem cell research tonight at the Democratic convention, but leading Alzheimer’s researchers say the destructive research is nowhere close to helping patients, like Reagan’s father, afflicted by the debilitating disease.

President Ronald Reagan suffered for at least ten years with Alzheimer’s, and his son will say that President George W. Bush’s limits of taxpayer funding of embryonic research is limiting scientific progress.

However, because Alzheimer’s is not a disease involving one type of cell, one scientist says the use of embryonic stem cells is unlikely to have much effect.

"Alzheimer’s is a more global disease, with an effect on numerous kinds of cells," Steve Stice, a stem cell researcher at the University of Georgia, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper. "That makes it much more difficult for a cell therapy to be effective."

In a patient afflicted with Alzheimer’s, clumps of protein called amyloid build up within the brain and begin attacking various types of cells and the connections between cells.

Other researchers agree that potential cures, if they come about, won’t happen soon.

"I just think everybody feels there are higher priorities for seeking effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and for identifying preventive strategies," Marilyn Albert told the Associated Press in June.

Albert, a Johns Hopkins University researcher who chairs the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council of the Alzheimer’s Association, says there are more promising efforts to treat the disease than waiting on the decades it could take to see results from embryonic stem cells.

Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, associate director of the National Institute on Aging’s neuroscience and neuropsychology of aging program, concurs.

"There’s an awful lot going on right now that perhaps holds a little bit more immediate promise for trying to slow the disease, or even cut off its development," Morrison-Bogorad explained.

Both scientists pointed to efforts to block amyloid from building up in the brain. Such research could yield results in 5 to 10 years, much sooner than dividends from embryonic stem cell research.