By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC
The great embryonic stem cell debate has really faded, hasn’t it? I mean, when was the last time you heard the, “ESCs are the ONLY HOPE for CURES! CURES! CURES!” nonsense?
I think there are several causes for the carnival folding up its tents and stealing out of town. Adult stem cell and induced pluripotent stem cell breakthroughs have forged ahead steadily, while ESCR has not. Indeed, the most notable ESCR human trial (out of three) was stopped by Geron after many years of successful PR blitzing. I also suspect that once the field couldn’t be used to pound President Bush — and once it was demonstrated that Bush’s policy was not actually throttling cures — it lost much of its political salience.
Time to move on, right? Nope. Science as a field was corrupted by too many embryonic stem cell advocates to often, to just let their mendacity fade into the twilight — remember, if they did it once, they will do it again. Case in point: During the late, great debate, I heard scientists testilie in front of legislative committees and repeatedly assert falsely in public debates that adult stem were of limited use because they are ”unipotent,” that is, they could only become their own kind of tissue type, e.g. blood could become blood, fat, fat, etc. My head wanted to explode at the blatant lie, which was repeated and repeated and repeated. Adult stem cells are — and were known to be then — ”multipotent,” that is, they can become several types of cells. (Pluripotent can become any type of cell.)
Which brings us to the latest adult stem cell breakthrough. Scientists have turned human fat stem cells into bone. From the Telegraph story:
Scientists have grown human bone from stem cells in a laboratory. The development opens the way for patients to have broken bones repaired or even replaced with entire new ones grown outside the body from a patient’s own cells. The researchers started with stem cells taken from fat tissue. It took around a month to grow them into sections of fully-formed living human bone up to a couple of inches long. The first trial in patients is on course to be conducted later this year, by an Israeli biotechnology company that has been working with academics on the technology.
And proving that politicized scientists aren’t the only falsehood tellers, the story once again exposes PETA’s ongoing lie that animal research serves no useful human purpose:
Already animals have successfully received bone transplants. The scientists were able to insert almost an inch of laboratory-grown human bone into the middle section of a rat’s leg bone, where it successfully merged with the remaining animal bone.
Realize that the researchers had to severed the rats’ bones precisely — which would have been done under anesthesia — in order to be healed. Then, they would have been euthanized to study the success of the bone graft. Not pleasant, but necessary for science and medicine to advance.
Reasonable people can differ about ethical issues. But, if we are to have reasoned debates, the public must be told the truth. Too often in the ESCR and animal rights debates, that didn’t and doesn’t happen.
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