Cord-blood stem cell breakthrough

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Via Mister Snitch!, there's news of a woman, 19 years a paraplegic, who has regained some feeling and movement in her legs following infusion of stem cells from umbilical cord blood.

Mister Snitch writes: "If this, again, is valid, it probably also marks the beginning of the end of principled resistance against stem cell research in this country. The political tide will quickly swing overwhelmingly in favor of more research, and quickly."

I am not aware of any opposition to any form of stem cell research. The principled resistance is to embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). Extracting stem cells from an embryo results in the end of that human life; extracting stem cells from cord blood, bone marrow, fat cells, or mucous membranes -- "adult" stem cells -- does not destroy the living human being from whom the cells are taken.

Adult stem cell research has produced real therapeutic benefits, but for some reason it is overlooked by celebrity proponents of embryonic stem cell research. Perhaps it's because it undermines the argument that ESCR is essential. Some ESCR supporters seem desperate to find some positive benefit that can justify the destruction of human life, but so far, all the results have come from non-controversial adult stem cell research.

It reminds me of the lifeboat scenario used to teach "values clarification": There are too many people in a lifeboat, so you have to decide whose life is worth saving and whose should be sacrificed. Ideally, you figure a way so everyone can be saved and no one has to be thrown overboard. That's what adult stem cell research offers.

If there is any political tide resulting from this development, it ought to sweep away federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and deposit those dollars with researchers who are achieving cures using stem cells from cord blood and other sources that respect the sanctity of human life.


heh.. you won't believe this, but I have that Steve Taylor cassette and it has that song, "lifeboat" on it. That's old school, man! Taylor came out with a dual-CD best of compilation not too long ago.
He was pretty cool. "Meltdown", "We don't need no color code". One really good song was "Baby Doe".

Dan Paden said:

Amen on all points, brother...

Mr. Snitch! said:

My understanding of this (feel free to correct me) is that use of stem cells from unviable fetuses (i.e., aborted or stillborn) are also verboten in this country. I believe increased competition will result from goals (money) being in sight, and then there are questions of national pride, and US ownership of patents. This is the pressure which I believe will result in some compromise regarding embryonic stem cells. Of course, if this research means that ANY stem cells will suffice, embryonic cells are a moot point. Whether that is actually the case I do not know. I do not even know if this research can be duplicated. I just know that any advance like this (which is pretty spectacular) is going to lead to a fierce battle to get there first.

Judging by your response, you may be against ANY form of embryonic stem cell research. I respect your beliefs. I'm pragmatic about it: if abortion is the law of the land and abortions are being performed, and some part of the embryo can save lives, I'm for doing that. If your beliefs are Judeo-Christian based, I have heard of people of faith taking that stance. Obviously, this is controversial.

Since I speculate on the outcome of political matters, and we are being forced to a point of decision here, I am guessing that IF embryonic stem cells are of advantage in bringing results, we will see a compromise soon. Of course, compromises never please everyone.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 30, 2005 12:39 AM.

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