Is The Stem Cell Debate Over?

Harvesting embryonic cells for research had sparked a debate with the pro-life movement. Not with the research itself but how the stem cells were obtained. Years ago, I can remember some friends of mine who were highly critical of George W. Bush for withdrawing funding for the research along with celebrities like Michael J Fox who had Parkinson’s disease. All of which was found to be a non-issue with the discovery in 2007 when scientists were able to reprogram adult stem cells back to their embryonic state.

In the last few years, there hasn’t been much news about stem cell research in general. Here are a few new developments in the field… Wildfires have been raging in California, fighting fires like these often times result in injuries. Canadian researchers have devised a way to grow stem cells from the burnt victims own skin in order to increase the recovery time.

From Medical Xpress

“Until now, almost nobody thought of looking for viable cells in the burned skin itself, which is normally considered medical waste. When the U of T researchers began looking in the first pieces of discarded skin, they hoped to find even one living cell. They were exhilarated by the discovery of thousands of cells – in some cases up to one million cells.”

“Much faster healing would be a major step forward.”

Not only would faster healing be a tremendous accomplishment but also limit the rejection rate. Prior to this proposed research, stem cells used in this type of treatment came from other people’s bodies. The rejection rate is very high for the patients who obtained this type of treatment which is something critics of the pro-life movement failed to take into an account.

Who would have thought to use burned skin? Practically nobody but these Canadian researchers decided to think outside the box and will put into practice next year as they test their new theory! This is great research hopefully they will get good results!

The debate over harvesting embryonic cells for research isn’t quite dead, despite the fact that stem cells can be used from a patient’s own body whether that be reprogramed stem cells or adult stem cells, in general, which produces a much greater success for recovery. Some Scientists are trying to be a little sneaky about using embryonic cells which are considered to be human. They changed the term to “hES” cells rather than calling it “human embryonic stem cells”., Of course, there is an ethical issue with their experiment so even though they admit as much, they still try and hide it. So if are a patient of this research, be aware of the terms used so you know what you are getting because it’s not only your life (because your immune system can perceive them as “foreign,” and reject them) but someone else’s life too.

Scientists do not have to be sneaky, in fact, it’s unethical to be that sneaky! They can use better alternatives like the Canadian researchers are planning on doing next year. Another indication that the debate is not over is the fact that there is a rising popularity with cloning. By cloning the person, embryonic cells would have a much better chance of being accepted by the patient’s body. However, when Human Embryonic cells were injected into mice, the mice got tumors which were cancerous. There is no margin for error, if just one cell doesn’t reproduce the right way, it would mean death for the patient. So the treatment may someday cure someone with one disease but then kill them with another.

Reprogrammed cells have not eliminated the cancer threat. If scientists can reprogram adult stem cells without altering the DNA which may reduce the risk of cancer, you might see the pro-life movement and those against it on the same side on this issue!

Can Research Funds Be Used More Wisely?

This is a question that should be asked on a regular basis after all public funding is quite extensive in this area. Evolutionary science mainly relies on the hypothesis or theory first method.

This means if the theory requires for certain  mechanisms like in this case, generate mass, equipment is used to fit it into the desired framework.  Large Hadron Collider is a typical example of this,  they are hoping to find evidence of this particle that Nobel laureate Leon Lederman called the “God particle.” This machine cost over 6 billion dollars to manufacture plus all the hours researchers put in. Then there is a ‘theory’ which is not observable called, “Dark matter.”

This idea was invented in order to fill in a gap that was a major problem…

“Dark matter is a proposed form of matter that could make up 22 percent of the universe’s mass-energy budget, vastly outweighing all the normal matter, like stars and galaxies. Astronomers can’t observe dark matter directly, but they think it’s there because of the gravitational pull it seems to exert on everything else. Without dark matter, the thinking goes, galaxies would fly apart.

“As if that weren’t weird enough, scientists think another 74 percent of the mass-energy budget could be made of some strange quantity called dark energy. This force is thought to be responsible for the accelerating pace of the expansion of the universe. (For those keeping track, that would leave only a measly 4 percent of the universe composed of normal matter.”

Calibrating accurately how much smoothing, or blurring the telescope is causing to its images is being debated by some in this area, because if the calibration is off, so are the assumptions of dark matter and dark energy. I’ve been critical of scientists embracing such a concept because of the limitations for observing space. Jumping to conclusions is a major problem with research, there are many other examples not related to space as well.  Millions of hard earned money from the public have been spent on researching this area.

On a brighter note, adult stem cell research continues to reach new highs. A new treatment restored a man’s vision which he lost 60 years ago! Stem cell transplants may in fact be critical treatment for chemical burns! And since the stem cells are from the patient themselves, there is no worries of rejection. Could funds be shifted into better research that has promising results that benefit mankind rather than into a complex model that scientists research for many years and most likely can be falsified or can never be verified?

The answer is, “yes” there is a lot of waste going on in the field of science and by shifting the funds from non-important research to more important will vastly improve scientific research!

Adult Stems Cell Research Continue to Show Progress

Scientists continue to focus more on adult cell research, in particular reprogramming adult cells. Last February, Harvard Stem Cell Institute(HSCI) showed some progress about eventually re-programing without using viruses or cancer-causing genes. Scientists hope this will lead to be able to change adult cells back to the beginning (embryonic like-state).

There is a new method of reprogramming conducted by HSCI as well, but the results of this new method might take years to realize what this breakthrough could mean…So it’s not like they discovered a new planet or anything like that, the research remains in it’s very infant-ency stages until further studies are done. More will be posted if there is any progress…In the meantime, the study explains it’s findings…

“Although scientists have successfully reprogrammed mature human skin cells into induced pluripotentiPS) cells by expressing a few key transcription factors, the conversion has been extremely inefficient. “Little is known about the mechanisms by which reprogramming occurs, in part because of the low efficiency,” says senior study author Dr. Konrad Hochedlinger from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.”  Science Daily

“In addition, the iPS cells created thus far have been generated with retroviruses and noninducible lentiviruses, both of which have major limitations that are not compatible with clinical applications.”  Science Daily

In other research news about adult stem cell research…

“Using the molecular equivalent of a tattoo on DNA that adult stem cells (ASC) pass to their “daughter” cells in combination with gene expression profiles, University of Utah researchers have identified two early steps in adult stem cell differentiation—the process that determines whether cells will form muscle, neurons, skin, etc., in people and animals.” Science Daily

As advances are made in adult stem cells, and embryonic stem continues to die in research value, one could ask, are the liberals going admit their wrong about the progress happening? Most likely, “no” as the pride of man dictates his response. The human body was well designed, it’s special complexity is mind-boggling to say the least. Indeed, this sort of research is biblical. That not to say all embryonic stem research was unbiblical. Some have suggested the expansion of adult stem cell research is because of the controversy over embryonic research, when in fact it appears now to be more like the results in the research.