Embryonic Stem Cell Research Poll Biased, Promotes False Cures

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 30, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Poll Biased, Promotes False Cures Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 30, 2004

Philadelphia, PA (LifeNews.com) — A new poll on embryonic stem cell research is being criticized as biased because the question it uses discusses a potential cure for Alzheimer’s that many researchers say won’t result.

Last week, a survey released by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania showed 64 percent of Americans backing the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research.

The question asked whether respondents would "favor or oppose federal funding of research on diseases like Alzheimer’s using stem cells taken from human embryos."

However, leading researchers say Alzheimer’s patients suffering from the debilitating disease are not likely going to benefit from embryonic stem cell research.

"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 earlier this month. "That makes it much more difficult for a cell therapy to be effective."

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

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.

Two other recent polls show a majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars to be used to pay for embryonic stem cell research and that they oppose human cloning specifically to create embryos for the purpose of research.

One poll revealed that 53 percent of respondents opposed "using tax dollars to pay for the kind of stem cell research that requires the killing of human embryos," while only 38 percent support it.

The other shows that Americans overwhelmingly (80 to 13 percent) oppose the position taken Kerry — that human cloning should be allowed to create human embryos only to be destroyed for their stem cells.

After President Reagan passed away, advocates of embryonic stem cell research piggybacked their message onto his death, saying that such research could benefit others who suffer from diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

But one of his sons, Ron Reagan acknowledged that Alzheimer’s is too complicated of a disease to benefit from the controversial research.

"Alzheimer’s is a disease, ironically, that probably won’t be amenable to treatment through stem cell therapies," Reagan admitted in an interview on MSNBC’s "Hardball" on July 12.

No patients have yet shown any benefits as a result of the use of embryonic stem cells while others have seen remarkable successes from adult stem cell research.

Pro-life advocates argue that embryonic stem cell research has not been as successful as research employing adult stem cells. They oppose embryonic stem cell research because unborn children in their earliest days must be destroyed to obtain the stem cells.