Stem Cell Research Shifting Focus

Embryonic stem cell research is now fading as it showing less and less promise. However, adult stem cell research since last year has been showing remarkable progress.  Embryonic stem cell research remains highly controversial for many including myself. The research was promoted on a large scale as the new vehicle of future treatments for diseases. It became a political issue just a few years ago. Biotech companies pushed hard for easing restrictions on embryonic research. President Bush addressed the push for this expansion in the following speech given on Aug 9, 2001…

“Based on preliminary work that has been privately funded, scientists believe further research using stem cells offers great promise that could help improve the lives of those who suffer from many terrible diseases — from juvenile diabetes to Alzheimer’s, from Parkinson’s to spinal cord injuries.  And while scientists admit they are not yet certain, they believe stem cells derived from embryos have unique potential.”

Christians alike including myself opposed the idea of embryonic research because of it’s dealings with a human life which God created. But it wasn’t necessarily a total non-endorsement against the research itself. There were other ways in obtaining embryonic stem cells such as the umbilical cords. Liberals were outraged over Bush’s limited use of the research. Evolutionary scientists were bent on destroying embryos.

In 2007, it was reported in science daily“Adult stem cells, found in many tissues in the body, are precursor cells for specific cell types. For example, stem cells found in the bone marrow develop into blood cells, bone cells and other connective tissues, and neural stem cells develop into brain tissue.” In August 2008 there has been major progress on what is called; pluripotent stem cells which are made from adult stem cells. The progress has been so profound, showing much promise that researchers are loosing interest in embryonic research which “almost has no therapeutic advances to show for the cash.” Yes, embryonic research was “big business” at one time and entailed sinful behavior over destroying the embryo. In fact it still is to a certain degree big business as it remains political. Congress and both candidates Obama and McCain support expansion of this dying research. Perhaps both candidates and many others who supported it from the past should shift the focus now to things like pluripotent stem cells and even cell transmogrification.

There has been some good news on the cell transmogrification front which has scientists excited but are still years away on making any major advancement (if any) on this particular cell research;In a discovery that’s being hailed as a leap forward in regenerative medicine, researchers have found a way to transform common pancreatic cells in an adult mouse into the rare, insulin-producing beta cells that are destroyed in type 1 diabetes. There are always high expectations of cures and treatments in the beginning. Only time will tell if this will pan out into a real breakthough among humans, but one thing is for sure, there is a shift in stem cell research.

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