Media Bias Seen in Story on Adult Stem Cell Research and Cancer

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 25, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Media Bias Seen in Story on Adult Stem Cell Research and Cancer

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 25, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Media bias on the issue of stem cell research continued last week as media outlets from the United States to Great Britain reported that the use of older adult stem cells could lead to cancer. However, such cells are never used in patients.

"Two new studies suggest that if adult stem cells replicate too many times in a lab dish, they risk becoming tumorous," the Associated Press wrote about a New Scientist report. "Cells that divided between 90 and 140 times in a lab formed cancers when they were transplanted into test animals."

The AP article featured the headline: "Adult stem cells in cancer setback" while the BBC warned, "Adult Cells Cancer Threat."

However, the Associated Press waits until the middle of the article to mention that such cells are never transplanted into humans. Not until later in the article does the news service admit that scientists already know embryonic stem cells pose a cancer risk.

Meanwhile, Regenetech Inc., a Houston-based, adult-stem-cell company, said over the weekend that recent scientific studies of adult stem cells expanded with its NASA-created techniques indicate the cells do not turn cancerous.

Their findings contradict the claims of scientists in Spain and Denmark, whose findings were the subject of the media scare reports.

Regenetech said that two recently completed scientific studies demonstrated the effectiveness and safety of adult stem cell research, "thereby making its process the most successful procedure of expanded stem cells known."

“While we have demonstrated for some time that we can significantly expand adult stem cells, we needed to make sure that there were no harmful effects created by the use of expanded cells," Arless Hutchinson II, Regenetech president said.

Dr. Donnie Rudd, Regenetech’s chief scientist, confirmed that the adult stem cells expanded in its NASA research did not create tumors when transplanted.