by Michael Fumento
July 20, 2006
LifeNews.com Note: Michael Fumento is an author, journalist, and attorney specializing in science and health issues. He is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington and has been a legal writer for the Washington Times and an editorial writer for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver.
Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) receive tremendous media attention, with oft-repeated claims that they have the potential to cure virtually every disease known. Yet there are spoilsports, self included, who point out that they have yet to even make it into a human clinical trial.
This is even as alternatives – adult stem cells (ASCs) from numerous places in the body as well as umbilical cord blood and placenta – are curing diseases here and now and have been doing so for decades. And that makes ESC advocates very, very angry.
How many diseases ASCs can treat or cure is debatable, with one website claiming almost 80 for umbilical cord blood alone. Dr. David Prentice of the Family Research Council, using stricter standards of evidence, has constituted a list of 72 for all types of ASCs.
But now three ESC advocates have directly challenged Prentice’s list. They’ve published a letter in Science magazine, released ahead of publication obviously to influence Pres. Bush’s promise to veto legislation that would open wide the federal funding spigot for ESC research. The letter claims ASC “treatments fully tested in all required phases of clinical trials and approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration are available to treat only nine of the conditions” on his list.
Well! One answer to that is that it’s nine more than can be claimed for ESCs. Further, there are 1175 clinical trials for ASCs, including those no longer recruiting patients, with zero for ESCs. But a better response is that the letter authors come from the Kenneth Lay School for honesty, as do the editors at Science.
In the detailed attachment to their letter, the Science magazine writers aren’t just at odds with Prentice but the medical community as a whole. For example, regarding sickle cell anemia, they claim “adult stem cell transplants from bone marrow or umbilical cord blood can provide some benefit to sickle cell patients” and “hold the potential to treat sickle cell anemia.” “Some benefit” and “potential?”
An article from the May 2006 issue of Current Opinion in Hematology notes that “there is presently no curative therapy” for sickle cell anemia other than allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. “Hematopoietic” means from marrow or blood; “allogeneic” means the cells are from another person.
Seminars in Hematology (2004) states, “. . . curative allogeneic stem cell transplantation therapy” has “been developed for sickle cell anemia.” Meanwhile, “. . . curative allogeneic stem cell transplantation therapy [has] been developed for” sickle cell anemia according to Current Opinions in Molecular Therapy (2003), while “hematopoietic stem cells for allogeneic transplantation” are “currently the only curative approach for sickle cell anemia” observes the journal Blood (2002). (All emphasis mine.)
What does everybody seem to know that the Science writers and Science editors don’t?
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