Ruler of the Emerald City he’s not, but on the Oprah Winfrey Show recently Dr. Mehmet Oz let Michael J. Fox know that his quest down the yellow brick road of embryonic stem cell research may lead to nowhere:
Video is also available on Oprah’s website.
My own thoughts:
I am certainly certainly pleased to see the problems of ESCR pointed out on a show like Oprah’s. It is great and widespread publicity for what many of us opposed to ESCR have been saying for a while now and I pray that the media as well as the general public will pay attention. However, I am a little cautious in my support for induced pluripotent stem cell research – which is what is touted here as the ESCR alternative – after finding out that much, though not all I don’t think, of the preliminary research involves the use fetal skin cells. It would have been nice if Dr. Oz also mentioned the fact that adult stem cells are doing an excellent job on their own without having to be reverted to an embryonic like state. Even in Parkinson’s, the disease he discussed on the show: there’s been a peer reviewed study of a man treated for the disease with his own stem cells taken from his brain – with phase II trials now in the works – as well as other human patients treated for Parkinson’s with stem cells from their own bone marrow.
I would like to share Dr. Oz’s sentiments that the ESCR debate is in fact “over”. Of course I am hopeful, as I’ve said before, that the truth will win out in the end. But, as I also tell people when I talk about this, it is doubtful that the existence of alternatives to ESCs, no matter how effective or more promising, is going to really kill the debate anytime in the near future. As voters saw in Missouri in 2006, as well as in California and most recently Michigan last year, there are some very influential people who have invested too much time and money into advancing the pro-cloning/ESCR agenda to see it just disappear. If it’s not useful for finding cures and treatments, you can bet they’ll find some reason to continue to push for it, even if it’s just for pure scientific curiosity.