Monday, October 03, 2005

Live Patients & Dead Mice - Christianity Today Magazine

Live Patients & Dead Mice - Christianity Today Magazine:
"Dennis Turner's Parkinson's disease had become so severe by 1999 that he could not use his right arm. That was the year he underwent an experimental treatment with his own brain adult stem cells. "Soon after having the cells injected, my Parkinson's symptoms began to improve," Turner testified in 2004 before the U.S. Senate. "My trembling grew less and less, until to all appearances it was gone."

This is certainly hopeful news for those who recognize the potential usefulness of using stem cells to reverse the course of certain diseases, but at the same time are concerned with the moral implications of creating embryos solely for the purpose of harvesting embryonic stem cells.
"...For adult stem cells, the dogma has been that they are not as flexible, only forming the tissue from which they originated. They have been useful for decades at replacing bone marrow and forming blood, but it was thought that they were limited in forming other tissues.

Not so. Since the mid-1990s, a rapidly growing volume of scientific evidence has documented that adult stem cells possess much greater abilities than scientists imagined, and some show the same pluripotent flexibility as embryonic stem cells. Within the last four years, researchers from around the world have documented that adult stem cells from bone marrow, blood, amniotic fluid, placenta, umbilical cord blood, and nasal tissue show this same remarkable plasticity, but without the problems of tumors seen with embryonic stem cells..."
The term "dogma" in the preceding quote is a well-chosen word, considering the fervor with which many scientists defend the use of embryonic stem cells and eschew the adult stem cells as being far inferior.

For my part, I'll keep an open mind and hope that these latest developments lead to more effective, non-destructive therapy as well as contributing to the body of knowledge.

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