Wednesday, March 14, 2007

True Hope vs. Real Hype

The editorial below was submitted by Right to Life of Michigan to the Greenville Daily News.

True Hope vs. Real Hype

Hardly a day goes by that The Daily News doesn't highlight some new discovery in medical technology. One exciting area of research is stem cell research. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about this research, which research has the most potential and the laws in Michigan.

The Research -While embryonic stem cell research receives the lion's share of attention, most people are unaware that research using stem cells from adults and umbilical cord blood is so far ahead of embryonic stem cell research that if they were in a race - embryonic stem cell research wouldn't be able to catch a glimpse of adult stem cell research with binoculars. The number of ailments in humans which have been treated or helped by stem cells from life-affirming sources is more than 70 while the number of treatments from research which requires the destruction of human embryos is zero. There are more than a thousand clinical trials underway or soon to be underway using adult stem cells or stem cells from umbilical cords while there is not a single clinical trial using embryonic stem cells. The reason for this is embryonic stem cells have a number of huge hurdles to get past before they can even be tested in humans. First off, in animal studies embryonic stem cells form tumors which can be deadly. Second, embryonic stem cells face the possibility of being rejected by a patient's immune system since the stem cells won't have the same DNA as the patient. Researchers hope to overcome the second obstacle by creating cloned human embryos and then killing those cloned embryos for their stem cells.

The Potential - Despite the huge obstacles embryonic stem cells have to overcome and the amazing progress made with adult stem cells, for the last 5-plus years we've heard over and over again about how embryonic stem cells have the "most potential" or the "most promise." It's time for a reality check. The state of California plans to spend $3 billion dollars on embryonic stem cell research and human cloning for research experiments in the next 10 years. Even though California researchers will have an almost inconceivable amount of funding at their fingertips, the group in charge of the funding recently revealed that at the end of the 10 years, they hope there will be some research with embryonic stem cells in "early stage clinical trials." In other words, they are hopeful that after 10 years and $3 billion dollars, embryonic stem cell research will be at a place which is still far behind where adult stem cell research is right now. That "potential" just doesn't sound too promising.

The Law - Embryonic stem cell research is not banned in Michigan. It is going on right now at the University of Michigan with federal tax dollars. Michigan law prohibits the killing of human embryos for research purposes. Michigan law also makes it a crime to try to clone human beings. Michigan has the strongest ban on human cloning in the United States. The legislation Rep. Andrew Meisner and Sen. Gretchen Whitmer support doesn't strengthen Michigan's ban on human cloning. It does just the opposite. It overturns Michigan's ban on human cloning and makes it legal to create cloned human embryos for experimentation.

Don't be swayed by the hype. Science has shown us researchers don't need to create and kill human embryos to treat human beings suffering from horrible ailments. Let's focus our resources on research which works and doesn't kill human embryos and not on research which doesn't work and requires the deaths of human embryos.