Sifting Fact from Fiction.Demonstrating their agility at the serve and volley The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter.
Please help [ improve the introduction] to meet Wikipedia's layout standards. You can discuss the issue on the talk page. game, advocates of stem cell stem cell
In living organisms, an undifferentiated cell that can produce other cells that eventually make up specialized tissues and organs. There are two major types of stem cells, embryonic and adult. research that would require the destruction of human embryos told reporters that there was a silver lining in the defeat of the Greenwood bill to explicitly allow the creation by cloning of humans purely for destruction. [See "Averting a Catastrophe," this page, and the story on page one.]
Public opinion is overwhelmingly against cloning but evenly divided on proposals to extract stem cells stem cells, unspecialized human or animal cells that can produce mature specialized body cells and at the same time replicate themselves. Embryonic stem cells are derived from a blastocyst (the blastula typical of placental mammals; see embryo), which is very young from living "spare" embryos, they argue. Since Congress will not want to be seen as opposing research that "promises" to cure every major disease known to man, defeat on one front spells victory in another.
Too clever by half, but workable for those whose only objective is to have a lethal go at hapless human embryos. If we are to win, our job is to sift fact from fiction, truth from hype and communicate this to elected officials and to the wider public.
Our anti-propaganda campaign starts with the truism that when pollsters pose honest questions (ones that mention the destruction of human embryos, as opposed to gibberish about "fertilized fer·til·ize
v. fer·til·ized, fer·til·iz·ing, fer·til·iz·es
1. To cause the fertilization of (an ovum, for example).
2. eggs"), the public clearly signals its disapproval. Make a passing reference to research that would require the destruction of human embryos and people say no! When the truth is cased in euphemism, the exact opposite is the case.
While writing about this issue to pro-lifers is like hauling coals to Newcastle, when it comes to the wider public, the only way to cut through the haze is to clearly and often remind people that the "promise" of embryonic stem cells that would be lethally culled from "spare" embryos remains entirely hypothetical. By contrast, sources such as umbilical cord blood umbilical cord blood Transplantation A source of primitive and stem cells that can be used to reconstitute BM destroyed by aplastic anemia or by RT or chemotherapy for CA, lymphoproliferative malignancies. See Bone marrow transplantation, Stem cell therapy. , placentas, and adult stem cells (particularly those found in bone marrow) have been improving lives for years. Sad to say, for too long reality has played second fiddle to hyperbole and hype. (See the graph on page 33.)
But there is good news. Once safely ensconced en·sconce
tr.v. en·sconced, en·sconc·ing, en·sconc·es
1. To settle (oneself) securely or comfortably: She ensconced herself in an armchair.
2. on the command heights of the debate, the dogma that embryonic stem cells are superior to other stem cell alternatives is now under siege. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal is only the best of a slew of recent analyses. Collectively, they matter-of-factly tell the story of the remarkable progress made using alternative stem cell sources while also highlighting the significant potential dangers of too-frisky embryonic stem cells.
What Richard Miniter does best in his July 23 Journal story is to show that the three "pillars" that undergird the "case for the superiority of embryo stem cells" are very shaky. This hat trick of misrepresentations include that these stem cells are "easier to harvest, there are more stem cells in embryos than in adults, and they can be more easily changed into every organ and tissue in the body."
What is the truth? Scientists "have been extracting some types of human adult stem cells for almost a decade, while human embryo stem cells weren't successfully isolated until 1998," Minter writes. Adult stem cells have been used in clinical trials "to treat multiple sclerosis, leukemia, liver disease Liver Disease Definition
Liver disease is a general term for any damage that reduces the functioning of the liver.
The liver is a large, solid organ located in the upper right-hand side of the abdomen. , cardiac damage, brain tumors, ovarian cancer ovarian cancer
Malignant tumour of the ovaries. Risk factors include early age of first menstruation (before age 12), late onset of menopause (after age 52), absence of pregnancy, presence of specific genetic mutations, use of fertility drugs, and personal history of breast , breast cancer, arthritis, lupus and other conditions."
Another non-starter: "[W]hile it's true that embryos have a higher ratio of stem to nonstem cells, that doesn't mean much," Miniter notes. "Scientists have discovered stem cells in adults in virtually every major organ, including the brain. Researchers can now multiply adult stem cells in culture by a billion-fold in a few weeks." Indeed, eventually scientists may be able to utilities this "natural repair process" to grow new livers (to take one example) "from stem cells extracted from their own liver or body fat."
But, like Atlas holding the world on his shoulders, it is the third pillar upon which the case for the use of embryonic stem cells principally rests: the monotonous mantra that they are easier to change into other types of cells--that they are (in the jargon) more "plastic." But, in fact, this argument is doubly wrong.
1. With respect to any practical application, adult stem cells are likely as flexible/plastic/susceptible to reorientation Noun 1. reorientation - a fresh orientation; a changed set of attitudes and beliefs
orientation - an integrated set of attitudes and beliefs
2. reorientation - the act of changing the direction in which something is oriented as ever will be required. Already, for example, it appears that adult liver stem cells can be programmed into producing other kinds of tissue.
2. Alas, embryonic stem cells are like out-of-control adolescents. They are way too "plastic."
Miniter quotes University of Pennsylvania (body, education) University of Pennsylvania - The home of ENIAC and Machiavelli.
Address: Philadelphia, PA, USA. bioethicist Glenn McGee, who told MIT's Technology Review, "The emerging truth in the lab is that [embryonic] stem cells are hard to rein in to check the speed of, or cause to stop, by drawing the reins.
to cause (a person) to slow down or cease some activity; - to rein in is used commonly of superiors in a chain of command, ordering a subordinate to moderate or cease some activity deemed excessive.
See also: Rein Rein ." And get McGee's ominous additional comment: "The potential that they would explode into a cancerous mass after a stem-cell transplant might turn out to be the Pandora's box of stem-cell research."
And that doesn't even touch the whole issue of the need for anti-rejection drugs Anti-Rejection Drugs Definition
Anti-rejection drugs are daily medications taken by organ transplant patients to prevent organ rejection.
Purpose to suppress the body's natural tendency to ward off "foreign" tissue. Obviously this potentially very serious drawback is not an issue when the stem cells are drawn from the patient's own body.
One other extremely helpful development must not be overlooked: a growing backlash against those who grossly overpromise the potential of embryonic stem cells. An article in the August 5 San Francisco Chronicle The San Francisco Chronicle was founded in 1865 as The Daily Dramatic Chronicle by teenage brothers Charles de Young and Michael H. de Young. The paper grew along with San Francisco to become the largest circulation newspaper on the West Coast of the included this vitally important but little discussed development:
"As stem cell mania reaches fever pitch, a backlash is emerging among scientists - - including some medical researchers who fear sensational stories are setting the public up for disappointment when the expected miracle treatments don't arrive overnight. Even one of the field's most enthusiastic and respected backers is disturbed by the recent publicity, which has ranged from emotional congressional hearings to media headlines hinting at imminent victory in the wars against heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease Alzheimer's disease (ăls`hī'mərz, ôls–), degenerative disease of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex that leads to atrophy of the brain and senile dementia. - - you name it.
" `I am a little concerned with how much hype there is,' said Ronald D.G. McKay, who studies neural stem cells and is chief of the laboratory of molecular biology The Laboratory of Molecular Biology (or LMB) is a research institute in Cambridge, England, which was at the forefront of the revolution in molecular biology which occurred in the 1950-60s. Since then it remains a major medical research laboratory with a much broader focus. at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is a part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The NINDS conducts and supports research on brain and nervous system disorders. Created by the U.S. ."
From Day One, the operating assumption for pro-lifers, the one that guides everything we do, is that if we do our job, sooner or later the truth will prevail. The battle over stem cell research that would require the killing of human embryos is the perfect laboratory to test this hypothesis.
We all fully understand that there are many dangers and pitfalls galore ahead, but we remain confident the truth will be sifted from the hype like wheat from chaff chaff
1. chaffed hay; called also chop.
2. the winnowings from a threshing, consisting of awns, husks, glumes and other relatively indigestible materials. . But only, to repeat, if each of us does his or her job.
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