There has been a huge misconception that the pro-life communities oppose potentially life-saving stem cell technology. Nothing could be further from the truth. To explain our position, first we must separate fact from fiction.
WHAT IS A STEM CELL?
A stem cell is essentially a "blank" cell, capable of becoming another more differentiated cell type in the body, such as a skin cell, a muscle cell, or a nerve cell.
WHY ARE STEM CELLS IMPORTANT?
Stem cells can be used to replace or heal damaged tissues and cells in the body.
WHAT ARE THE TWO BROAD CLASSES OF STEM CELLS?
The two basic types of stem cells are:
1) EMBRYONIC TYPE STEM CELLS
Come from living human embryos that must be destroyed (killed) in order utilize the stem cells
-- Controversial and unethical (Pro-Lifers generally oppose this type)
-- Flexible - can be converted into any cell type in your body
-- Tumorigenic - due to its flexibility, the cells are hard to control and are capable of forming tumors or promoting tumor formation in its recipients
-- Immunogenic - recipient must take immunosuppressant medicine indefinitely
-- Basically OBSOLETE due to iPS technology
It is unethical to destroy new human lives in order to potentially improve another human life. Especially, when there is another safe and ethical alternative.
2) ADULT TYPE STEM CELLS
Come from pregnancy-related tissues such as umbilical cords, placentas, and amniotic fluid, and adult (or infant) tissues such as bone marrow, skin, liver, epidermis, retina, skeletal muscle, intestine, brain, dental pulp, and elsewhere. Even fat obtained from liposuction has been shown to contain significant numbers of adult type stem cells
-- Non-controversial, moral and ethical (Pro-life and religious communities, as well as everyone else, wholeheartedly support it)
-- Non-Tumorigenic - tend not to form tumors
-- If cells are taken from oneself, than the body will not reject the cells. Therefore, there is no need to take immunosuppressant medicine
-- Have repeatedly PROVEN to be beneficial
WHY ARE ADULT STEM CELLS PREFERABLE TO EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS?
Adult stem cells are a "natural" solution. They naturally exist in our bodies, and they provide a natural repair mechanism for many tissues of our bodies. They belong in the micro environment of an adult body, while embryonic stem cells belong in the micro environment of the early embryo, not in an adult body, where they tend to cause tumors and immune system reactions. Most importantly, adult stem cells have already been successfully used in human therapies for many years. As of this date, NO therapies in humans have ever been successfully carried out using embryonic stem cells. New therapies using adult type stem cells, on the other hand, are being developed all the time. There are many examples of success stories using adult stem cells. ~ Stem Cell Research Facts (SCRF)
This chart compares, to date, the benefits to human patients of the 2 types of stem cells:
Adult Stem Cells v. Embryonic Stem Cells
Adult Stem Cells
Embryonic Stem Cells
Neural Degenerative Diseases and Injuries
Anemias and Other Blood Conditions
Wounds and Injuries
Other Metabolic Disorders
Peer-Reviewed References (not a complete listing, sample references)
With new iPS technology, ethical adult stem cells can be easily reprogrammed back into stem cells that have the same potential as embryonic stem cells. Also, if iPS cells (induced Pluripotent Stem) are used from the person's own body, there is no fear that the body will reject it, therefore there is no need for immunosuppressant medication. However, there is still the danger of tumor formation since these cells have been reprogrammed back into embryonic-type stem cells.
iPS cell technology, human skin cells can be reprogrammed into stem
cells, which can then be differentiated into any cell type ~ Cellular Dynamics International
Watch this video of Dr. Oz explaining to Michael J. Fox on The Oprah Winfrey Show how embryonic stem cell research is "dead" and iPS cells are the new and exciting, safe alternative.
DID PRESIDENT BUSH BAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH?
It is a myth that embryonic stem cell research had been banned until President Obama reversed the ban in March 2009. In reality, there has never been any law or regulation against destroying human embryos for research purposes. While President Bush banned the use of federal funding (tax payer monies) to pay for research on embryonic stem cell lines created after August 2001, it has never been illegal. Anyone using private funds was free to pursue it. In fact, even certain states, such as NY, have been allowing state funding for ESC research. President Obama lifted this ban on federal funding, making it possible to use tax payer money for the controversial and, many believe, obsolete embryonic stem cell research. Thereby, it is diverting our money away from ethical and sound adult stem cell research that could provide safe cures and treatments decades before embryonic stem cell research possibly could.
SO, WHAT REALLY IS THE BENEFIT TO EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH?
Despite all the dangers and controversies, many scientists are determined to waste taxpayer money in order to experiment with embryonic stem cells --- WHY? Because if they, the bio tech/pharmaceutical companies and research centers, are successful in patenting an embryonic stem cell line, as opposed to adult stem cells which cannot be patented, then they would make a great deal of money at our expense.
Links and Sources
Stem Cell Research Facts
Geron Bails Out of Stem Cells - Science Insider
Cell Therapy Foundation
New Stem Cell Study a First - Wisconsin State Journal
Spain, Ignoring Useless Embryonic, Leads World in Stem Cell Organ Transplants - RepairStemCells.org
California's Proposition 71 Failure - Investors.com (Investor's Business Daily)
The Great Stem-Cell-Reasearch Scam, by Michael Fumento, New York Post
Why Embryonic Stem Cells Are Obsolete by Bernadine Healy, M.D., U.S.News & World Report's
Embryonic Stem Cells 'Obsolete' - Investors.com (IBD)
Decades Away: The Dirty Secret of Embryonic Stem Cell Research By Michael Fumento, Forbes
Obsolete Science Bailout Plan - Bioethics Defense Fund
Do We Still Need Embryonic Stem Cells? By Erin Richards, Scientific Blogging
Success with iPSCs - TheScientist.com
Virus-free embryonic-like stem cells made from skin of Parkinson's disease patients - PhysOrg.com
Parkinson's Disease Patient-Derived Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Free of Viral Reprogramming Factors - The Cell
Vatican Supports Adult Stem-cell Research - New American
iPS Cell "Memory" and Stem Cell Confusion By David Prentice, FRC Blog
Scientists Turn Skin Cells Directly Into Blood Cells, Bypassing Middle Pluripotent Step - Science Daily
Not with a bang, but a whimper; After more than a decade of research on embryonic stem cells, scientists are quietly moving on to greener pastures - Mercator.net