Sunday, November 05, 2006

Embryonic stem-cell research meets X-Men 3

A couple of weeks ago, the Globe reported on a "devastating" experiment at the University of Rochester involving embryonic stem cells. Once again, researchers were unsuccessful in their attempt to use stem cells extracted from embryos to treat Parkinson's disease.

When will they ever learn. Embryonic stem cell research, which involves killing a human embryo in order to extract its stem cells, has been hailed as the magic solution for all diseases. So far it has proven to be nothing more than a charlatan's snake oil. After years of research and untold millions of dollars being pumped into the field, embryonic stem cell research has still not yielded a single useful treatment on human beings. Not one. Yet the researchers press on, killing embryos in the lab in order to get their stem cells.

Adult stem cell research involves extracting a stem cell from an adult, often through the blood, bone marrow, skin, muscle and fat. As such, it does not involve any unethical killing of embryos. And guess what? It actually yields productive results. Research has allowed successful bone marrow transplants and the treatment of Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn's disease, myeloma and leukemia.

Adult stem cell research is not only ethical, but it works. So why do researchers insist on doing research with embryos? Probably because of the extra potential that these cells appear to possess as a result of their capability to transform into any kind of cell. But researchers have been unable to control this potential, and they're killing millions of embryos in their attempts.

Stem cells from embryos tend to be subject to random and uncontrollable growth. For example, cells implanted into the brain have sometimes grown into teeth or hair. Gross!!!

It reminds me of the movie X-Men 3. The good mutants discover that their colleague Jean has amazing powers, more than any other mutant. However, she is mentally disturbed and cannot control her powers for the good. She's like a wild animal doing tons of damage. In the end, the good mutants are forced to fight her and kill her in order to end her rampage of destruction and death.

It's time to pull the plug on embryonic stem cell research and focus on adult stem cells, where the real potential lies. Even if embryonic stem cell research were to yield any results someday, the fact that it requires the killing of innocent embryos would still make it unacceptable.