Thursday, October 26, 2006

Stem Cell Research : Missouri Battle Heating Up

Actor Michael J. Fox, a Parkinson’s patient, made national news with his TV ad endorsing a U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri who supports embryo-destructive stem cell research. The ad also was considered an aid to a ballot measure that would change Missouri’s constitution to promote embryonic stem cell research. Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ), Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond), Kurt Warner (former St. Louis Rams Super Bowl champion/MVP quarterback), Jeff Suppan (St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who started game 4 of the World Series), and Mike Sweeney (all-star first baseman for the Kansas City Royals) recorded an ad opposing the ballot measure.

The foursome questioned the hype about embryonic stem cells, warned of the health risk to women posed by the egg-harvesting market that would develop to meet the demand for embryos, and noted that the proposed amendment would enshrine in the Missouri constitution the right to make and destroy clones for stem cell research. Click here to see it.


Anonymous said...

Read your Husker Blog. Good one.

Early this month, my 6 year old son was sudddenly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, His and our lives have been forever changed in an instant.

According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, one of the most promising avenues for finding a cure is in stem cell research, as noted in this recent example:

I wish I could sit down and talk to every one of those public figure athletes who seem to not understand that this issue is about finding cures for illnesses that affect kids, parents, sisters, uncles and grandparents. One day when it's their family that's affected, they may have a much different outlook.

Sorry, no time to register in your Blog, but I will sign;

Stuart Magee
Santa Barbara, CA

Chip Maxwell said...

Stuart, I'm sorry to hear about your child's condition. However, even if one of my children develops diabetes, I don't see how that changes the argument.

It's either right or wrong to cannibalize embryos for research. I don't think you can say: It's wrong to destroy embryos for research, unless I or someone I care about gets sick; in that case, tear 'em apart and give us their stem cells ASAP.

I read the story you linked. It appears to have nothing to do with embryonic stem cell research.

This comment was plugged in near the end: "It might even help guide embryonic stem cells to become insulin secreting cells." It appears to be one of those gratuitous throw-'em-a-bone references to embryonic stem cells just to keep the pot boiling.

Here's a link to a story about adult stem cells being turned into insulin-producing pancreatic cells:

I wonder why JDRF is so locked into the campaign to promote embryonic and bury adult.

Sandy Goodman said...

Anyone involved in this debate has an obligation to read the article, "Ethics in the Trenches: A Multifaceted Analysis of the Stem Cell Debate", by Dr. Mark Noble.

Extracted below is the discussion relevant to the topic at hand, cures for diabetes. It refers to a frequently cited claim of current adult stem cell use in experimental pancreatic islet cell transplants.

The point is that all promising avenues within the broadly supported values of our society need to be pursued.

Sandy Goodman

352 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________Noble
Stem Cell Reviews ♦Volume 1, 2005

This claim of diabetes treatment with adult-derived cells refers to a technique known as the Edmonton Protocol, in which islets are isolated from the pancreas of people who have died and are transplanted into individuals with type I diabetes. Early results are promising, and there are about a dozen individuals who have been off insulin therapy for a year or so. This is the basis for this claim that can be found on large numbers of web sites, generally affiliated with a religious institution, opposed to ESC/SCNT research and therapeutics.

Unfortunately, there is vital information that is being left out in this claim. The Edmonton protocol requires islet cells from quite healthy dead people, from individuals who are brain dead and from whom a still-functioning pancreas can be isolated. The literature indicates that about 3000 pancreases from donor cadavers become available each year, and you need two cadavers to treat one person with diabetes. Thus, this technique, if proven successful in larger studies, could help up to 1500 people per year. In contrast, there are an estimated 1,400,000 individuals in the United States with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes.

Let’s look at what this means with a visual diagram (Fig. 4). On the left are the 1,400,000 individuals in the United States with type-I diabetes. On the right, a solid black bar is added in the top left to represent all of the individuals who could be treated over 1 year if the Edmonton protocol for transplanting adult islets was used with 100% efficiency.

What is the right way to describe individuals who claim that if you have 1.4 million sick individuals, and you have the potential to cure 1500 of them (leaving 1,398,500 sick individuals, or >98.5% of your starting population), that you should abandon avenues of research that might lead to cures for all of them? Ignorant? Maybe. Misleading? Absolutely. Ethically correct? Not in a million years.

That anyone would use information of this nature to say that adult-derived cells are all you need to cure diabetes is absolutely baffling. Such a claim has no basis in reality.

Chip Maxwell said...

Here's another case of a pro-embryonic advocate misrepresenting the process to make you think there is no hope unless we cannibalize embryos.

You learn how to make adult pancreatic cells produce insulin. Then you don't need embryos or cadavers or the brain dead. You use adult pancreatic stem cells from the patient, just as you do with other therapies using adult stem cells. That's the point of the story I linked.