Legislator with spinal injury promotes adult and cord-blood stem cell research

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Interesting bit stuck into the Whirled's story about newly-elected Oklahoma State Representative John Enns, a Republican from Enid. Enns sustained a spinal injury in a farming accident two years ago which left him unable to walk. He gets around mainly in his wheelchair, but through therapy he has regained some ability to use a walker. Among his legislative interests, the story mentions stem cell research:

Enns also wants to do what he can about furthering stem-cell research. It is something that he is told could help him with his condition. Scientists are thinking that stem cells could possibly help grow nerve tissue in his spine.

Enns, who has degrees in biology and chemistry, said he believes stem cells could be taken from adults as well as umbilical cords, and do not have to come from embryos. He blames the media for emphasizing the embryo source rather than other means of obtaining cells.

I appreciate Rep. Enns for making that point in his interview, and I have to give credit to the Whirled Capital reporter, Mick Hinton, and the editors for making that point a part of the story.

ELSEWHERE on the stem cell research front, there's this item from BBC News about a study showing that progenitor cells (similar to stem cells) on the surface of the heart can be used to regenerate heart blood vessels in the presence of a certain protein, thymosin beta 4.

Lead researcher Dr Paul Riley said: "We found that, when treated with thymosin ß4, these adult cells have as much potential as embryonic cells to create healthy heart tissue."

Dr Riley said using thymosin ß4 could lead to a more effective way to repair damaged hearts.

He said: "Our research has shown that blood vessel regeneration is still possible in the adult heart.

"In the future if we can figure out how to direct the progenitor cells using thymosin ß4, there could be potential for therapy based on the patients' own heart cells.

"This approach would bypass the risk of immune system rejection, a major problem with the use of stem cell transplants from another source.

"And, it has the added benefit that the cells are already located in the right place - within the heart itself."

(Via Dawn Eden, who is understandably proud of her father, who discovered thymosin ß4. How wonderful it must be for her as an advocate for alternatives to embryonic stem-cell research to be related to someone who is making those alternatives not only possible but a reality.)


Paul Tay said:

Nothing clearly illustrates the pro-life dogma gone WILD as the stem cell issue. When DOCTOR Frist contradicted his party leader, based on sound scientific principles, I was secretly CHEERING. Don't let this get out too much. Mum's da word, k?

Frist's turnabout was based on political expediency, not science or principle. To date, embryonic stem cell research has not resulted in any therapeutic uses, but research with stem cells from mature tissues, from bone marrow, and from cord blood has resulted in therapies that have saved lives and improved the quality of life, without sacrificing the tiniest human lives. The debate has suffered from media outlets which oversimplify everything, ignoring non-embryonic stem cell research and confusing the lack of federal funding for embryonic research with a ban on embryonic research.

Most advocates of public funding for embryonic stem cell research are well-intentioned but unaware of the breakthroughs in therapies that don't involve the destruction of embryos. I'm hopeful that stories like these will make more people aware that we don't need to destroy human life in order to help those who are suffering.

Paul Tay said:

There is NO further destruction of human life that is not already happening with the discarding of UNUSED embryonic cells.

If in fact it was a Frist political expediency, I'm even MORE for it. More policitally expedient to make the RIGHT call, than argue science. Wow. Dat's AMAZING for politicians. Don't let me stand in the way.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 19, 2006 8:54 PM.

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