Monday, January 21, 2008

Head of Van Andel Institute says, "We don't have a reason to do" embryonic stem cell research

During a recent interview with the Grand Rapids Press, David Van Andel, Chief Executive of the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, was asked whether the Van Andel Institute "ever will do embryonic stem-cell research?"

His response is below. He notes one of the major problems with ever using embryonic stem cells to treat patients and mentions why that's one of the reasons recent research creating patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cell lines without killing human embryos is so important.

A: We don't have a reason to do it. I mean, everybody's trying to force this on me, and I say, why? If at some point we find that stem-cell research of any kind offers an opportunity for one of the diseases we're in, we certainly will look at it and, in some cases, probably engage in it. I don't see a reason to go down the road, because I don't have anybody tell me, 'I want to go do this.' ... One of the major obstacles in embryonic stem cells that has not gotten a lot of attention is the fact that you're using somebody else's cells to make these, and you're going to plant them in your body. There's a huge rejection issue that has to be overcome, and nobody talked about that. That's why this other discovery was so important, because it was using your cells from your body, and that rejection issue gets negated. That's a major, major deal.