Scientists Admit Embryonic Stem Cell Research Hasn’t Been Successful

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 8, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scientists Admit Embryonic Stem Cell Research Hasn’t Been Successful

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 8
, 2008

London, England ( — While pro-life advocates have repeated the mantra for years that embryonic stem cell research hasn’t helped a single patient while adult stem cells have already been used in humans afflicted with dozens of diseases, a leading scientist in England is beginning to admit defeat.

Lord Patel of Dunkeld, the chairman of the UK National Stem Cell Network and a chancellor at Dundee University, says embryonic stem cell research is simply not working.

He conceded in an interview with the Scotsman newspaper that the controversial science may never deliver new treatments for diseases.

"In terms of embryonic stem cell therapy, there is currently no such therapy that is available in a large number of patients," he said.

Patel also admitted scientists may never be able to overcome the hurdles — such as the development of tumors or immune syndrome rejection issues — that plague embryonic stem cell research and make it risky in humans.

"We have to be cautious," he told the Scotsman. "It may not deliver therapy for anything. We may find that stem therapy is quite a risky business."

"We had a lot of hype about gene therapy, and while we still use it in some cases it did not deliver the great promise we thought it would because of the side effects," he said.

Despite downplaying the prospects for success, Lord Patel told the newspaper he still thought embryonic stem cell research should move forward.

The newspaper also interviewed Dr. Willy Lensch, from the Children’s Hospital in Boston, who also confirmed the possibility that the prospect of embryonic stem cell research may never play out.

"I could not guarantee to anyone that this work will actually lead to improvements in disease as a definite," he admitted.

For American bioethics watchdog Wesley Smith, the admissions aren’t surprising.

"For the last ten years, ‘the scientists,’ in order to win the political debates over embryonic stem cell research and [human cloning] often wildly hyped the potential for cures," he said.

"In the process, they convinced Californians–now facing a $16 billion budget deficit and tens of billions in bond debt–to borrow $300 million every year to pay for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research," he explained.

"States vied with each other in an Oklahoma land race type scramble to throw money at Big Biotech. The focus of the media became obsessed with overturning President Bush’s funding policy, to the point that it committed serial journalistic malpractice with biased reporting and a news blockade on non-embryonic stem cell successes," Smith added.

"Well, those cures have not even appeared as distant silhouettes on the horizon yet, and finally, a few in the media are beginning to notice," Smith concluded.

"By hyping the potential, the politicized science sector misled people to win a political debate, and in the process reduced science to just another special interest spinning and obfuscating to get a greater share of gruel in the public trough."