Here’s something we haven’t talked about in a while. I don’t watch the news, so I am thankful to a friend of mine for alerting me in a message on Facebook last week that CBS had aired a favorable report on embryonic stem cell research. Here’s video of the report:
It’s your basic MSM ESCR puff piece – no big surprise there. But because this is, sadly, where most Americans get their “facts” about stem cell research a few points are worth addressing:
1.) It is interesting, as News Busters points out, that they didn’t at all mention that even some people find human ESCR morally objectionable. Not sure if pretending that there are is not even the slightest debate on the ethics of ESCR is a new media tactic for garnering more ESCR support, or what. But I’ve never seen even the most pro ESCR story leave out that not-very-insignificant fact, even as just an aside.
2.) I noticed that they managed to slip in the pharmaceutical connection to ESCR when they mentioned the potential for testing drugs “in the safety of a petri dish, before trying them on patients.” Nevermind the fact that what they’re testing those drugs on are tiny human beings. For the most part, the general public has been sold on the idea that using and destroying human embryos was necessary to cure disease and help paralyzed people walk again, but that’s not all they have in mind for this research. Indeed, the real future, some would say, lies not in regenerative medicine, but drug testing and monitoring the progression of certain diseases and body parts.
3.) The report mentions that Geron Corp. will begin the first FDA-approved trial of ESC use in humans later this year. First of all, Geron makes this announcement every year and every year they fail to follow through (thank God!). Secondly, that “FDA-approved” trial is actually being held up by the FDA because of complications with preliminary animal studies.
4.) Dr. Kessler should know that if he really wants to see his daughter walk again, he’s looking in the wrong place. Adult stem cells are light-years ahead of ESCs in this area, helping several human patients regain feeling and movement and progress continues to be made. See here, here, here, here, here and here.
5.) Finally, and this one is most infuriating, at the end of his report, Dr. Jon LaPook tells Katie Couric:
Even if everything goes right, stem cell based treatments won’t be widely available for years. Still, this may be one of those rare instances in medicine when the hype is actually deserved.
“The hype is actually deserved?” Seriously??? Not one human being has benefited from any kind of embryonic stem cell treatment, ever! And any limited success in animal studies is tainted by the cells’ propensity to become cancerous or form deadly tumors and cysts. What makes this statement worse is that, though it was not mentioned in this piece, the media, and some scientists, typically cannot mention adult stem cell research without highlighting the supposed “drawbacks” (which they’re also wrong about) to using those cells even though they’ve been proven to be safe and effective for use in human beings. In fact, they’ve even gone so far as to warn people not to get their hopes up when they hear of human beings benefiting from non-embryonic stem cell treatment.
In the message I received from my friend he noted:
by the end of the story anyone who couldn’t follow the jumps would believe that Pres. Obama was saving lives by his change of policy.
This, I suspect, was the real goal of the story in the first place.
If this report tells us anything, it’s that the stem cell issue is not dead – no matter what Dr. Oz says. Lack of positive results and ethical alternatives aren’t going to persuade all researchers to turn away from research using human embryos, as I said, there are plenty of other things they would like to use those human embryos for besides regenerative medicine. I know all the pro-life focus seems to be on health care these days, but let’s not lose sight of the other serious threats to human life.