3/13/05

stem cell disinformation

It's late, and I wasn't really planning on posting, but I just got back from my first time @ St. Mike's of Old Town, where I attended a great lecture immediately following their 7pm "contemporary" mass. I thought his name was "Fr. Ted", but it turns out his full name is "Tadeusz Pacholczyk", Director of Education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center. Apparently he meets regularly with Bush's bioethics people - he mentioned that Bush's point man in this area is a Jew! awesome! er, I mean, Jewish, not a Jew, because apparently using the former term is offensive. He also meets regularly with some of the big dudes in Rome. Anyway, here are some jewels I took away from his lecture:

  • Embryonic stem cells do not heal, there are zero reported cases of healing. Because of their rapid rate of growth in embryos, they form tumors when used in animals, which ultimately kill the animal.
  • Adult stem cells already have a multitude of success stories. We saw pictures and videos of:

    1. A video of a man's heart after a heart attack, how only half of it would really contract while pumping, the other half, scar tissue, was pretty rigid. Then, a video of his heart after adult stem cells were extracted from his own hip bone, injected directly into his heart, and they somehow knew to collect around the scar tissue and regenerate it. The second video showed his heart completely contracting each time, it was an incredibly apparent difference. Historically, this man would have been a prime candidate for a heart transplant. (Or at least, the waiting list for one..)
    2. A woman with an aggressive case of Leukemia who chose to give birth to her daughter before accepting chemotherapy. Too late, the radiation could not permanently eradicate the cancer. They had collected and frozen her child's umbilical cord blood, rich in adult stem cells... which were then used to cure the child's own mother of leukemia! Her daughter's middle name is "Angel".
    3. A young boy was having to receive frequent, massive transfusions of blood, to combat the symptoms of Sickle Cell Anemia, where his body was creating wrongly shaped blood cells. They blasted him with the radiation in just the right dose and right location to destroy his own body's ability to create new blood cells. They then injected umbilical cord stem cells from a blood bank into him, which then regenerated that blood cell constructing functionality. How convinced were they that this had actually been the fix? His blood type changed!
    4. A little girl was born with a disease that would make her first blind & deaf, and then ultimately die around age two. Her younger brother had been born with it and died from it. I don't remember the name of the affliction. Well adult stem cells applied to the spinal cord defect mean that she is now 7 years old and healthy.
    5. Some of you may have heard about the spinal cord injury woman in Korea that was recently pictured with a walker, who had previously been wheelchair-bound. These were stems cells extracted from her nasal cavity, another potent source of adult stem cells. She had been stuck on wheels for 15 years. Talk about regenerative! Another woman had been paraplegic for 2 years. Doctors say that all the progress you'll make with exercises will take place in the first year. 10 days after adult stem cells were coated over her spinal cord injury, she began to feel her toes.

  • No stem cell research, including embryonic stem cell research, is illegal or banned. Embryonic stem cell research has not been allowed government funding since Clinton, the only thing Bush did was liberalize the restriction by allowing existing embryonic stem cell lines - started from embryo's killed anytime before his statement - to receive government funding.
  • The Catholic Church strongly supports and encourages 3 out of the 4 types of human stem cell usage. 1) embryonic stem cells can be harvested from a miscarried fetus, called germ cells. 2) adult stem cells can be harvested from umbilical cord blood. 3) adult stem cells can be safely harvested from multiple locations in the human body. 4) however, harvesting fetal stem cells requires the destruction of a previously living fetus.
  • A researcher in London is currently proving that there is no such thing as the "undifferentiated mass or blob of cells", that even at the first division from one cell into two, there are unique characteristics for each cell that designate the parts of the being that is taking shape.