The “Political Science” of Stem Cells

Date: 01/10/2006

Congress is considering legislation to divert taxpayer dollars toward stem cell research that requires destroying live human embryos. In the campaign to promote such funding, political hype often substitutes for the scientific facts.  This series of one-page “lessons” responds to mere politics with science.

Lesson 1: The Fountain of Youth

Do embryonic stem cells produce a fountain of youth, or an eruption of cancer?

Lesson 2: Remember Not to Tell Fairy Tales About Alzheimer’s

Scientific experts agree that claims of an embryonic stem cell cure for Alzheimer’s disease are far-fetched.

Lesson 3: Pay Attention To Your Own Scientists’ Results

If Christopher Reeve had read his own researchers’ results, he would have known that the unique promise of embryonic stem cells has been exaggerated.

Lesson 4: The Myth of the 400,000 Embryos

Embryos currently frozen in fertility clinics offer nothing like the inexhaustible supply of stem cells some claim.

Lesson 5: Juvenile Comments About Diabetes

Embryos currently frozen in fertility clinics offer nothing like the inexhaustible supply of stem cells some claim.

Lesson 6: The Hard Sell on Cell Lines

The stem cell lines eligible for funding under President Bush’s policy are not as limited, and new privately created lines are not as superior, as some assume.

Lesson 7: It’s Not Political Hype That Will Get People Walking Again

It’s adult stem cell research that is beginning to get spinal cord injury patients out of their wheelchairs.

Lesson 8: Bloody Nonsense
Do umbilical cord blood stem cells treat only blood diseases? Not by a long shot.

Lesson 9: Making a Difference?

Getting stem cells to make many different cell types in the lab, and getting them to make real treatments for people, are very different things.

Lesson 10: You Can’t Advance Science By Denying Science

Denying that human embryos are human beings isn’t just immoral. It’s unscientific.

Lesson 11: Not Months or Days, But Decades

Although the public is often promised miracle cures, it could be decades before embryonic stem cells can be used to treat any disease.

Lesson 12: Don’t Throw Away the Future
Umbilical cord blood stem cells can now help suffering patients with six dozen illnesses, and show promise in treating many more. Due to a lack of national coordination and funds for cord blood banking, 4 million samples of cord blood are discarded in hospital nurseries every year a tragedy that Washington-area Channel 4 News calls “throwing away the future.”