Embryonic Stem Cell Research Has Still Not Yielded Medical Breakthroughs

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 26, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Has Still Not Yielded Medical Breakthroughs Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 26, 2006

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — While lawmakers in Washington are calling for votes on a bill that would overturn the president’s limits on using taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research, the controversial science has still not yielded any medical breakthroughs.

The recent scandal in South Korea shows embryonic stem cell research still has a long, long way to go before it produces cures for patients — if it ever does.

Biotech lobbyists continue attack President Bush and pro-life lawmakers for holding up votes to advance embryonic stem cell research, and can hardly contain their glee when someone votes against funding the unproven research.

But even Sean Tipton, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, a leading lobbyist for the biotech industry, acknowledges that the controversial science is making little progress.

In his calls for a vote on funding, he admitted that "at present there’s nothing that’s ready for therapeutic use."

Dr. David Stevens of the Christian Medical Association told Focus on the Family that there are several reasons for that.

"Nobody has been able to get over the tremendous problems of getting these cells in a pure culture so they don’t cause tumors when they’re transplanted," he told Family News in Focus.

"(There’s also) the problem of immune rejection — the body seeing them as foreign material and rejecting them, and also scientists are finding that they’re not functionally normal," Dr. Stevens added.

Led by disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk, the South Korean research team was supposed to have overcome that hurdle.

Hwang’s team claimed to have cloned a human embryo and created patient-specific embryonic stem cells that could be injected as cures without a person’s immune system rejecting them. However, it turned out that the claims were false and no such specialized embryonic cells ever existed.

Without federal taxpayer funding, embryonic stem cell researchers have continued their studies on the controversial cells with private funds, but have still made no progress.

Dr. David Prentice, a former Indiana State University professor now with the Family Research Council, told FNIF that embryonic stem cell research is at a dead end.

"They’ve got cells; they’ve got federal money; they’ve got state money; they’ve got private money," he said. "There’s just frankly nothing there."

At the same time, scientists continue to have tremendous successes with adult stem cells, which have already produced cures and treatments for dozens of conditions and diseases.

While President Bush limited using public money for embryonic stem cell research he’s paved the way for hundreds of millions to be spent annually since 2001 on adult stem cell research.