Science's Stem-Cell Scam

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 22, 2006 | Go to article overview
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Science's Stem-Cell Scam


Byline: Michael Fumento, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) receive tremendous media attention, with oft-repeated claims they have the potential to cure virtually every disease known. Yet there are spoilsports, myself included, who point out ESCs 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 Web site claiming almost 80 for umbilical cord blood alone. Dr. David Prentice of the Family Research Council, using stricter standards of evidence, has compiled a list of 72 for all types of ASCs. But now three ESC advocates have directly challenged Dr. Prentice's list. They published a letter in Science magazine, released ahead of publication obviously to influence President 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 is it's nine more than can be claimed for ESCs. Further, there are 1,175 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 Dr. Prentice but the medical community as a whole. For example, on 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 "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.

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