Barack Obama Stem Cell Research Ad Falsely Promises Alzheimer’s Cure

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 25, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Barack Obama Stem Cell Research Ad Falsely Promises Alzheimer’s Cure

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 25
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — The radio ad the Barack Obama campaign is running that falsely accuses John McCain of opposing stem cell research and misleads listeners on the best hope for diabetes patients has another problem. The ad promises cures for Alzheimer’s even though leading scientists say the disease likely won’t benefit.

"Stem cell research could unlock cures for diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s, too. But John McCain has stood in the way … he’s opposed stem cell research," the ad claims.

However, leading scientists say that embryonic stem cell research will likely never yield a cure for Alzheimer’s.

"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 previously. "That makes it much more difficult for a cell therapy to be effective."

In a patient afflicted with Alzheimer’s, clumps of protein called amyloid build up within the brain and begin attacking various types of cells and the connections between cells.

Other researchers agree that potential cures, if they come about, won’t happen soon.

"I think the chance of doing repairs to Alzheimer’s brains by putting in stem cells is small," stem cell researcher Michael Shelanski, of Columbia University Medical Center in New York, told the Washington Post in June 2004. "I personally think we’re going to get other therapies for Alzheimer’s a lot sooner."

Huntington Potter, a brain researcher at the University of South Florida in Tampa, also told the paper: "The complex architecture of the brain, the fact that it’s a diffuse disease with neuronal loss in numerous places and with synaptic loss, all this is a problem."

Marilyn Albert previously told the Associated Press, "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.

Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, associate director of the National Institute on Aging’s neuroscience and neuropsychology of aging program, concurs.

"There’s an awful lot going on right now that perhaps holds a little bit more immediate promise for trying to slow the disease, or even cut off its development," Morrison-Bogorad explained.

Even Ron Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, admitted in an interview on MSNBC’s "Hardball" in July 2004 that embryonic stem cell research is unlikely to provide cures for the debilitating disease.

"Alzheimer’s is a disease, ironically, that probably won’t be amenable to treatment through stem cell therapies," Reagan admitted.

If any stem cell therapy will work, it appears the use of adult stem cells, which McCain supports, may be the leading kind.

In March, scientists at the Cryo-Cell International found that targeted immune suppression using stem cells derived from human umbilical cord blood may reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

For the study, researchers had administered a series of low-dose infusions of umbilical cord blood cells into mice with abnormalities mimicking Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the organization’s announcement, researchers found that the two main markers of Alzheimer’s progression in the brain were reduced as a result of the infusions – myloid-beta proteins by 62 percent and cerebral amyloid angiopathy by 86 percent.

Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.