Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Reagan and Bio-ethics...

What say you of the issue regarding Nancy Reagan supporting, urging even, the Bush administration to lift its restrictions on ESC (Embryonic-Stem-Cell) Research? Would Mr. Reagan have supported such a thing? In the aftermath of Mr. Reagan's death, Mrs. Reagan has come out strongly in support of this research in the hopes that a viable treatment for Alzhiemers would be found. She is quoted by the Washington Post as saying...

"Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place where I can no longer reach him," ... "Because of this, I'm determined to do whatever I can to save other families from this pain. I just don't see how we can turn our backs on this [research]." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41586-2004Jun14.html

What is surprising is not that she supports stem cell research, but that she is for one, relying on the government to remedy this issure, and two, she is in favor of a research that, for all intents and purposes, allows the destruction of the unborn (embryonic stem cell research). Why is there such a push for ESC research when there is far more progress being made utilizing adult stem-cells? According to Wesley J. Smith a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the CBC (Center for Bioethics and Culture)...

"Early human trials have commenced for conditions such as heart damage, multiple sclerosis, corneal injury, spinal injury, and Parkinson's disease, among others, generally with very encouraging results. For example, in Lisbon, Portugal, Dr. Carlos Lima has helped restore some muscle and bladder control in paralyzed human patients using their own olfactory tissues. At least one patient regained the ability to stand with the aid of braces. Meanwhile, mice at the end stage of juvenile diabetes were cured using human spleen cells, a feat that no embryonic-stem-cell experiment has come close to matching. And it was just announced that bone-marrow stem cells have successfully regenerated liver tissue." In contrast, in experiments on animals, ESC has shown to cause tumors, in humans, the body has shown to reject the newly implanted cells, similar to rejecting an organ, and millions of eggs would have to be produced just to create one or two viable samples. This is the dilemma of ESC research, yet it is not put out there for the public to see. Focus is always on the "potential" benefits rather than painting an full and accurate picture of the facts.

This evidence far outweighs any perceived promise resulting from ESC, yet it continues to be pushed by many in the biotechnology community as a viable form of research and potential cure for these very ailments without any evidence that demontrates such. Support for ESC research is so strong that there is even a state initiative (The California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative) in California urging tax payers to vote on a bill that will cause the state to have to borrow over $3 billion to fund research into the area of ESC research as well as Adult Stem-cell research, yet what supporters of this bill do not tell taxpayers is that the money will have strings attached, for instance, while moneys could potentially fund Adult Stem-Cell research as well, it will more likely go towards ESC research due to a provision in the bill that gives priority to research that currently cannot be supported or funded by Federal dollars, which means since adult stem cell research is not blocked by Federal restricitions, it will not receive much funding, if any at all, but ESC research efforts would get priority in receiving California tax dollars because that specific research is limited to embryonic cells created prior to August of 2001 and therefore falls under this particular stipulation.

Mr. Smith also notes that not only does the evidence show that Adult stem cell research has more promise, but ESC research has also shown itself to be potentially far more expensive and impractical than utilizing Adult stem cells or cells extracted from the umbilical cord.

Again I ask, if there is visibly more progress being made utilizing adult stem cells and umbilical cells, why is there such a push for ESC? My gues would be it is due to the possible moral ramifications of outlawing such research, if we continue down this line of reasoning that ESC is immoral partially due to the fact that it causes embryos to be destroyed in the process then we can logically deduce that any medical procedure where this occurs can be considered immoral as well. I also believe another reason to be that there are obvious alterior motives that fall beyond the scope of healing that causes ESC research to continue to be considered a "viable" form of research by the biotechnology establishment. The mind is limitless in what it can conceive, especially with the potential of possessing and harnessing such power for selfish financial gain. Ultimately, I agree with Mr. Smith in that we have a culture now that puts science over religion, and specifically morality, making it into a religion of its own and therefore are able to justify such practices no matter what we are sacrificing in return for "progress". For many, what is known as regenerative medicine is the holy grail of science. It is the only sure, secular path to eternal life.


As Mr. Smith rightfully surmises, "...if our goal is to create effective treatments for degenerative conditions in the quickest possible time, pursuing non-embryonic approaches would seem to be our best bet."

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ahem...This is going to sound gross, but maybe they are using the Embryonic Stem Cells for this research, maybe they are doing far more nefarious experiments with them, especially in light of the data that was in your article. Something for us all to think about. Also, why do you need ESC's when you can get stem cells not only from adults, but also from the cord blood that is taken off of a delivered baby's umbilical cord with each delivery. That would be a large amount of stem cells, there would be no killing of human beings, and it would be a ready and cheap supply(I'm sure that's the argument that many lazy scientists would use to support ESC research).

K.B.

Anonymous said...

Oops...are in the first sentence is supposed to read AREN'T. Sorry!

K.B.

Jerry McClellan said...

It seems as though no one really knows about this issue. I've seen very few news organizations report extensively on this particular issue although I believe the Washington Post, and several others are reporting favorably for ESC Research, big surprise. I agree, I believe that the motives of the ESC supporters, not regular folk like Mrs. Reagan, but many bio-tech scientists and private tech orgs and companies are pushing for this research heavily, to the tune of $20 million and growing. There are several companies in Silicon Valley that are supporting the California initiative by donating and helping to raise funds to get it on the ballot for November, including Amgen a scientific/medical research and development company.

I just read that New Jersey has already passed Legislation allowing ESC Research.

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