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Know Where Your Lawmakers Stand on Stem Cell Research



Excerpts from article by:  Ms. Eve Herold of the Stem Cell Research Foundation.

The italicized items below represent the misinformation that is being promoted, and the bulleted text represents the Stem Cell Research Foundation’s reply.

“There is no scientific evidence that embryonic stem cells have therapeutic potential.”

There is a large amount of scientific data based on 20 years of animal research, plus a growing body of human embryonic (ES) stem cell research that has amply demonstrated “proof of principle” that human ES cell therapies can and do work.  Already, scientists have been able to create insulin-producing islet cells that, when transplanted into diabetics, reduced or eliminated the need for insulin injections.  Human ES cells have also given rise to neurons and other human nerve cells, kidney, lung, muscle, bone and several other human cell types. New kidneys have been grown in mice using human ES cells, and an infusion of human ES cells has enabled paralyzed rats to walk again.  Even with the severe funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, more than enough evidence has been uncovered to warrant a full scientific exploration of its curative potential in humans.

“Everything that needs to be done can be done with adult stem cells.  Adult stem cells can be reprogrammed to become any cell type that is needed.”

A majority of scientists disagree.  A few studies seem to suggest that adult stem cells, such as bone marrow stem cells, can differentiate into a completely different cell type when transplanted into different organs.  However, other studies that tried to duplicate these results found that the adult stem cells simply fused with the patient’s cells, resulting in cells with abnormal numbers of chromosomes.  One troubling question is if adult stem cells can truly be reprogrammed to treat disease, why don’t they do so in the body under natural conditions? There is little doubt that adult stem cells will have a number of successful clinical applications, but research needs to continue on all types of stem cells before we can conclude which stem cells have the most potential.

“Embryonic stem cell research is only supported by political extremists and ‘rogue’ or ‘crackpot’ scientists.”

Embryonic stem cell research is firmly in the mainstream of science and is supported by a solid majority of Americans.  An April 2004 poll conducted by an independent research group found that two out of every three Americans favor ES cell research.  Stem cell research is not a conservative or a liberal issue; its supporters cut across all party lines and affiliations.  In addition, over 40 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, the mainstream medical research community and nationwide health and patient advocacy groups have publicly supported it.  These include the American Medical Association, Harvard University, The National Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, The Association of Medical Colleges, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research and many others.

“Private funding will take care of all the research that needs to be done on embryonic stem cells, and in fact is doing so.”

This statement shows a complete lack of understanding of how medical research gets funded in this country.  The federal government, the only entity capable of pumping the huge amounts of money that are needed for such a costly enterprise, funds the lion’s share of basic biomedical research.  The pharmaceutical and biotech sectors come in far downstream in the discovery process, when there is a good possibility of a patentable product that can be marketed.  To expect private companies to invest in the enormous amount of research needed to lay the groundwork for basic science is naïve at best.  While there have been a few high-profile large donations made to a couple of universities for stem cell research, this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of investment that is required to lay the groundwork for human cures.

“Stem cell research will lead to ‘embryo farms,’ or the wholesale creation of massive numbers of embryos just to destroy them.”

Not true. Over 400,000 frozen embryos exist at IVF clinics today that are not needed and are slated for destruction.  These embryos could provide an ample supply of pluripotent; “master” cells for scientists to work with. Rather than disposing of these embryos, they could be used to
save millions of lives.

“Science has proven that an embryo at any stage is a person because it has a full set of chromosomes.”

Science has neither “proven” nor offered the judgment that human cells, because they contain a full set of chromosomes, should be considered the same as a person.  If this were a valid judgment, we would have to regard every cell of our bodies as persons, because all of our cells contain a full complement of DNA.  If you were to insert one of your skin cells into an egg and implant the egg into a uterus, it has the potential to become a person.  Yet we lose thousands of cells every day and we don’t regard this as a moral problem or feel we should go to heroic lengths to “save” them.  We have to use our common sense and make the distinction between an actual, living person and the potential for a person that will never develop.

“Umbilical cord blood cells are just as versatile as embryonic stem cells, and because they come from a newborn baby, these cells cannot be rejected.”

The stem cells found in umbilical cord blood are not considered embryonic stem cells—they are adult stem cells. Scientists have only recently begun to experiment with them, and so far they are thought to have the ability to give rise to a certain number of cell types, but not all cell types.  It has not been proven that umbilical cord stem cells cannot be rejected.  If umbilical cord blood cells were proven to be pluripotent and were not subject to rejection, they would probably be the only types of stem cells being studied.  As it stands today, they are regarded as being similar to bone marrow cells in that they can give rise to a few different cell types, but the cells must still be genetically matched to the patient in order to lessen the risk of rejection.

“What you’re doing with this new technology is no different from Nazi experimentation on their victims.” (No kidding…I’ve gotten this one.)

First of all, the Nazis experimented on living people, whereas stem cell research is working with human cells. There is a vast difference between a cell and a person.

“This technology (including cell cloning technology) should be banned because it has the potential to be used for evil purposes.”

There are countless technologies that can be misused.  A few terrorists flew airplanes into buildings and killed people, but we don’t ban airplanes as a result.  It makes no sense to condemn millions of people to suffering and early death if we have the ability to help them.  We have to use our common sense and not throw the baby out with the bath water.

“How can you guarantee that someone, somewhere, will not use this technique to clone a person?”

No one can guarantee that any technology will not be employed in an unethical way.  The knowledge of how to create clones is now widely available; so any “rogue scientist” already has that knowledge.  A ban on all types of cloning will not stop those who want to use this knowledge for reproductive cloning—it will only stop legitimate, mainstream medical research aimed at curing disease.  This would be the worst of all possible worlds. It means that millions of suffering people would be denied help just to protect society from some hypothetical possibility, which is very remote in the first place.  It’s important to note that in animals, cloning has about a 99% failure rate.  Less than 1% of cloned animal embryos ever result in a live birth.  The sheer financial investment plus the huge number of human eggs required for one successful human clone is so enormous that is extremely doubtful that anyone could accomplish such a feat."

Excerpts From Article by:
Beckie McCleery
President, Texans for Advancement of Medical Research (TAMR)

“What does the Bible say?”

The Bible is silent on when human life (that is ensoulment, the joining of the spiritual soul with the physical body) occurs.  Scripture being silent on the direct point at issue leaves us to apply our common sense, keeping in mind God's great reverence and love of human life in any form.  Common sense tells you that defining what constitutes human life can be the direct result of the answer to this simple question: What happens if you leave it alone?

In the case of a fetus in the womb, it is on a trajectory for becoming a human being by everyone's standard.  Therapeutic cloning (nuclear transfer) is a completely different process.  In therapeutic cloning (nuclear transfer), the egg cells are never fertilized, will not be transplanted into a woman's womb and will never become babies.  The cells are not human life in the sense of deserving legal protection, even though it is formed from human tissue.

“Who Supports Embryonic Stem Cell Research?”

Supported by 2/3 of the American public, including most Christians, the American Presbyterian Church, the Episcopal Church, the majority of American Catholics, and all three branches of Judaism.

206 members of US Congress support Stem Cell Research, including Republican leadership and nearly 3 dozen opponents of abortion.

“Economics of Stem Cell Research:”

Stem Cell Research will continue - Do we want to regulate it and benefit from it?  The Train has left the station: Stem cell research will take place.

New Jersey has passed a law that bans reproductive cloning but permits SCNT and has announced a $50 million funding initiative.  The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston has received a $25 million anonymous gift for a stem cell research center, and HEB, the Butt family, has donated another $2 million. California has passed a law that bans reproductive cloning but permits SCNT is going and is having a referendum to provide $3 billion for stem cell research 10 years to make the state a leader in the field.  Other states are conducting this research at universities.  Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin have announced the creation of a new, large-scale, privately funded institute.

However, the US is still losing its competitive edge in biomedical research because of the political scare tactics and the negative environment it creates for ethical research here in the US.  Scientists are leaving the US for other countries doing this research and advancing the field, like South Korea, Singapore, Great Britain, etc.  Biotech is one of the few areas in which the US can maintain a technological competitive advantage through bio medical research in this field, which translates to billions of dollars for the US economy, and we are giving it away.  In less than two years, it could be completely gone, and with it the hope for our country's economy.  State laws that ban the most promising form of biomedical research of our time sends a clear message to the research community, investors, and most of all the people counting on lawmakers to represent their interests, like healthcare and cures for devastating, incurable diseases.

Let's regulate Embryonic Stem Cell Research and SCNT.  Banning it won't stop it.  Banning it will only hurt our economy and people who are alive and suffering.

Most of the world's population lives in a country where there is a permissive environment for government funding of advanced Embryonic Stem Cell Research. The US is already lagging behind.

CureParalysisNow supports ALL Stem Cell Research just like CRPF!!