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STEM CELL CONTROVERSY

BACK to stem cell health

I think that a relaxation of restrictions against embryonic stem cell research will be a boon for Big Pharma and Bioengineering firms out of the US, because companies out of the US have been using this technology for years.  It will not directly benefit the US consumer for a while; although it will for everyone else in the world. 

The restriction on the use of federal dollars for research on embryonic stem cells has nothing at all to do with research in other kinds of stem cells.  Nor does that restriction stop such research—it only restricts federal dollars to use with twenty-one pre-existing embryonic stem cell lines.  The fact that there are already tens or hundreds of times more dollars—federal and otherwise—spent on embryonic stem cell research than other types of research on stem cells suggests that removing the restriction on funding this research is unlikely to quickly bring any breakthroughs to your local clinic.

It is important to understand that in the media, the term “stem cell” seems to be equivalent with embryonic stem cell”, and the term “stem cell research” seems to be equivalent to embryonic stem cell research”and it could not be further from the truth. While these terms are NOT equivalent, the confusion is not an accident. Those who control the media through the advertising dollars of big drug companies, don’t want you to know about adult stem cells, or umbilical cord stem cells, which have actually been used in medicine for the last 20 years!  In fact, embryonic stem cells CANNOT be used to treat humans, because they have a tendency to form TUMORS, which tendency has not been overcome by millions of dollars of research. 

On the other hand, adult and umbilical cord stem cells have no such tendency to form tumors, are without ethical complications, are demonstrably useful in treating, even curing, dozens of different disorders, yet the amount of money for research involving these stem cells is a small fraction of that provided to embryonic stem cell researchers.  And the amount of media exposure to these is also a fraction of that devoted to their embryonic cousins.

Recently at the World Stem Cell Summit in Madison , Wisconsin , where the first human embryonic stem cells were isolated 10 years ago, and where the first skin cells were genetically engineered to act like embryonic stem cells last year.  The focus there was using embryonic stem cells for drug research, for pharmaceutical testing, for genetic engineering, for creating patentable treatments (as explicitly opposed to cures) for a multitude of specific diseases, for only one reason.   There was also a significant focus on teaching focus groups and patient groups to become politically active in providing these researchers with more state and federal tax dollars, while also protecting their access to multiple embryonic stem cell lines.  There were NO breakout sessions or politicians talking about umbilical cord stem cells or adult stem cells, which are the only stem cells that can be used for human implantation. Why isn't this advertised? Because umbilical cord and adult stem cell treatment cannot be patented, therefore big pharma cannot be assured their profits. It does not matter that these adult and umbilical cord stem cells are the only ones that can be used in humans and can cure disease.

In other countries, physicians are already using umbilical cord stem cells to treat a variety of disorders.  They are also using adult stem cells, derived from a patient’s own tissues, for some treatments.  Most of these procedures are done with unchanged, naturally occurring stem cells, which cannot be patented, and therefore controlled, by pharmaceutical companies.  As a result, few of these treatments are available in the United States, and disease cure falsely being sought after by big phama and it being squelched, has nothing to do with the ban on embryonic stem cell research, which causes turmors in humans.  It has everything to do with a lack of interest from these organizations in finding real cures, especially cures that they cannot control through patents.

At the Stem Cell Summit, there was a general disbelief the American scientists, in the possibility of any treatment that did not come out of an ivory tower, (meaning American Big Pharmaceutical companies) having any possibility of being effective.  When faced with the clinical evidence of the success of certain existing natural stem cell therapies, that excluded embryonic stem cells, these leading researchers merely shook their heads, and said, “Naw, it couldn’t be.”  Denial of an alternate view of the world is not limited to religious fundamentalists—scientific fundamentalism narrows the mind just as much.  As a result, the general consensus was that anyone (outside the US, called medical tourism) who engages in “medical science” to find treatments not readily available in the US is just a gullible sucker, hoping for the impossible.  “If we don’t have it (in the hallowed halls of Science and Jingoism, in the US, then the US scientific community says, nobody does.”

Those who hope that removing the ban on using federal dollars to fund embryonic stem cell research on embryonic cells other than the 21 approved cell lines, such removal of the ban will cause or certainly create the destruction or, certainly cause the delay of a windfall of the natural, non-patentable clinically applicable breakthroughs, which have proven results in other countries that have been waiting a long time to be introduced to the US market.  It appears to those watching through the windows of the “ivory towers” that this restriction has little to do with the lack of availability of stem cell therapy in your home town.  The Big Pharm control on the US does not want you to have the miracles of stem cell therapy that can only be achieved through natural unchanged stem cells that cannot be patented, and lifting this limited restriction on research will not give those miracles to you, there is no profit in it.