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Stem Cells with Hope

By November 18, 2010LAC Hot Topics/Alerts
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H.R. 2520, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act, was written by Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) and originally passed and signed into law by President Bush in 2005.

The bill removes a cap of 150,000 cord blood units and expands the use of cord blood stem cells, which are often thrown away by hospitals.

Thankfully, this bill was reauthorized in the House by a unanimous vote on September 30.

It is imperative that we look to alternatives to the destruction of innocent human life in embryos. Cord blood and recent scientific breakthroughs virtually eliminate the need to destroy human life in the name of science and medical studies.

Adult stem cells have for years been used in the treatment of various diseases, including many cancers. However, many scientists argue that destructive embryonic stem cell research is necessary to explore possibly more successful avenues of treatment.

One recent breakthrough reported by the Washington Post on September 30 would make that argument irrelevant.Researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Boston published the results of a series of experiments that show that synthetic biological signals can quickly reprogram ordinary skin cells into entities that appear virtually identical to embryonic stem cells.

The article goes on to say that, The results were so striking that the Harvard Stem Cell Institute had already ordered every scientist working on iPS cells to switch to the new process.

Therefore, any scientific experiment argued to necessitate the destruction of human embryos can now be done using virtually identical cells generated from skin cells. Scientists can no longer argue that it is necessary to destroy human life for studies and experiment.

On a personal level, I have an autoimmune disease for which there is no cure and have received a myriad of therapies ranging from injections to pills of every color of the rainbow.Treatment for this particular illness is limited to steroids and maintenance for pain and other symptoms.

A few years ago, I had a particularly bad flare up, and a clinical trial involving stem cells was presented to me as an option.My doctor saw my eyes go wide and was quick to assure me that no part of this study involved the extraction of stem cells from embryos but that this particular trial involved the use of adult stem cells to reboot my immune system and possibly eliminate the disease completely.It was a treatment with a very high success rate in previous trials.

And while I ended up opting out of that treatment for now, I believe this is where our hope lies, in scientific research and advances in medical treatment for tragic illnesses that have so few treatment options.The studies gaining traction and getting results like the one I was offered are the studies involving adult stem cells.Especially in these economic times, President Obama needs to look at the facts and be a good steward of the tax dollars that fund the National Institutes of Health and its research.And we want our money funding studies and research that see results, not research that is destroying life and proving ineffective.