Adult Stem Cells: Is the Media Catching On?

ChelseaAdult Stem Cell Research9 Comments

When it comes to stem cell research, adult stem cells (ASC) have been outperforming their unethical, embryonic counterparts for years now. While embryonic stem cell (ESC) research only just last year began its very first trial on humans and is still trying to overcome issues with tumor formation and other harmful, deadly side-effects in animal studies for the past 20 years, adult stem cells have been successfully used in numerous adult studies for years and for many different diseases and conditions. The reaction from the media, as well as many in the scientific community, has been to ignore or belittle the positive results of ASC research while touting the “hope” and “promise” of ESCs. But, I recently came across a few articles that are way out of the norm for both the media and the mainstream scientific community.
First. ESPN The Magazine has an interesting article this week about how many professional athletes are seeking stem cell treatments for their injuries – adult stem cell treatments. Most recently, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning traveled to Europe for a treatment using his own fat cells to help his ailing neck. Other notable athletes to travel abroad for similar treatments are Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, NFL defensive end Jarvis Green and Yankees starter Bartolo Colon.

What is really amazing about the ESPN article is that it does not mention embryonic stem cells. At all. The entire article is focused on the development of treatments with adult stem cells and how progress of this research in the United States is being slowed down by the FDA.

Another interesting, but short, article is this opinion piece in New Scientist “In praise of stem-cell simplicity.” It is a rare acknowledgement by a very ESC research friendly scientific publication acknowledging of the effectiveness of ASC research. What’s more, they do it without a hint of skepticism, though they still maintain that “all avenues” of stem cell research should continue.

I definitely don’t think either of these articles indicates a shift towards a much more ASC friendly media, but they’re refreshing to see, nonetheless.

9 Comments on “Adult Stem Cells: Is the Media Catching On?”

  1. I didn’t find the ESPN article at all encouraging. They did not refer to the treatments as adult stem cell treatments, and though they mention bone marrow and fatl sources in the second paragraph, most people would see only the hope and promise phrase in the first paragraph and think it had to be ESC. Most people are not even aware that all successful treatments have come from ASC, and I dare say, they are not even aware that there are two different types of stem cells – one ethical and moral, far more promising with proven success, the other highly immoral and 100% plagued with failure. Until they actually spell the differences out in articles and use the words, “adult stem cells, not to be confused with embryonic stem cells,” I won’t be convinced that the media are “catching on.”

  2. What nonsense you write…who are you to dictate ethics especially when you slant the truth? Instead of listening to this uninformed diatribe maybe visitors can go to these sites and learn why all research is needed.

    Video describes life with Huntington’s disease, hopes for stem cell therapies

    For those not familiar with the issues heres a good interview.
    QUESTION: Do you have pet peeves regarding how the public perceives stem cell research?

    ANSWER: I have a few.

    The first is the myth that human embryonic stem cells come from aborted fetuses. This is nonsense. It’s just not true. These stem cells come from frozen blastocysts (a very early embryo consisting of 150-300 cells) not used in in-vitro fertilization procedures. These cells are going to be discarded, no matter what. End of story. There’s no abortion involved.

    Second, people sometimes think stem cell research is just one thing. In fact, the research covers lots of different kinds of stem cells with different properties related to different diseases. No one kind of stem cell can substitute for another. What makes ESCs so special is they can make many kinds of stem cells that we can’t otherwise get in reasonable qualities.

    Third, there’s the oft-repeated myth that adult stem cells can do everything. This is completely undocumented and misleading. People have to remember that a collection of press releases doesn’t establish a fact. Just because one or two scientists think something may be true doesn’t necessarily define it as an independently reproducible, consistent, useful finding that forms a correct foundation.

    Fourth and most dangerous are the pronouncements by some people that adult stem cells can cure any disease. This has resulted in a proliferation of clinics across the border and around the world that will, for a price, offer unproven therapies. People go to them for help without enough information necessarily to know what they’re getting. These clinics are unregulated. There’s no accountability to make sure they tell the truth. The treatments are so hyped that people are putting their lives at risk. We’re seeing cases of people who have gone to these clinics and come back with real damage.

  3. Perhaps you haven’t heard but the Europen Economic Union has just outlawed all research on Embryonic Stem Cells citing as a reason that an embryo was incipiant human life and thus deserving of the right to life due to all human beings. Pretty astounding!! Is Europe waking up?

  4. turning morality on its embryonic head

    What is particularly ironic is that while the court has banned the patenting of techniques derived from destroyed embryos, it has not banned the destruction of embryos themselves, which remains legal. If it is immoral, and illegal, to patent processes that derive from stem cell research, why is the research itself not immoral and illegal? Or, to put it another way, if the research is moral, and legal, why should the patenting of it not be so too? In fact just this point was raised by judge Peter Meier Beck in an earlier hearing in a German court. ‘If something is legally allowed’, Beck observed, ‘then it should not really be forbidden to patent it.’

    If the court judgment is difficult to fathom, the attitude of Greenpeace is even more so. So hostile has the organization become to ‘big science’ that it is happy to line up with some of the most reactionary and obnoxious groups in Europe and jeopardize vital medical research. Organizations such as Greenpeace like to present the debate about embryonic stem cell research (just as they like to do the debate about GM crops) as one between immoral scientists, hellbent on progress at any cost, and those who seek to place scientific advancement within a moral framework. But what is moral about causing unnecessary suffering by creating obstacles to medical advance? And what can be more ethical than attempting to alleviate such suffering through the development of medical techniques? It is about time we stopped indulging theologians and Luddites in the absurd myth that they occupy the moral high ground. They don’t. They are using moral norms drawn from dogmatic and reactionary visions of life to prevent the practical alleviation of human suffering. Theirs is the morality of the closed mind and the entombed heart.

    Just remember when they find cures through this science be true to your word and abstain from it’s use no matter how fast you are deteriorating!

  5. Linus: technically they did not outlaw embryonic stem cells and there was certainly no mention of the right to life as far as I know. They simply outlawed the issuance of patents for therapies derived from ESC research.

    On another note, the Vatican has recently started a collaboration with an adult stem cell company based out of New York – for more info.

  6. Rich,

    While no one adult stem cell can become everything, there are so many different TYPES of adult stem cells that we can simply use the appropriate ones for each job.

    Also, adult stem-cell research IS more ethical, whether you object to that pronouncement or not, because embryonic stem-cell research involves the destruction of human embryos, and human embryos are, scientifically, human beings.

    Try to spin that, Rich.

  7. @bmmg39

    point #1) A critical challenge for the stem cell field is that every stem cell is different. Even if one takes genetically identical cells and starts growing them under different conditions, the cells become different in important ways such as tumorigenicity. One important factor is oxygen tension but I believe that there are many more factors.

    2. …
    “Actually, it is not a scientific fact that a human being is created by fertilization. When a human being is created is something that scientists do not agree upon and for which there is no definitive data. In contrast, a fact is that fertilization creates a human 1 cell embryo. Is that the same as a human being? I personally do not think so, but I know that others disagree. This issue of when life begins is not one that I believe can be scientifically or medically proven. Hence, it falls into the area of personal belief–not facts, not data.”


    Without a doubt, those who claim a single cell is a person are forcing their religious belief on others. There are other religions, including some that are Christian that do not believe and human embryo is a person until later in the development process. I was told by an Orthodox Jew that they held that a developing fetus was a person only after 40 days gestation. I was also told that Islam believed it was 4 months. Interestingly this correlates with formation of the brain stem.

    Stop pushing your ill informed propaganda you troll!

  8. 1. No one who supports ESCR is wise to bring up tumorigenicity, as ESCs are notorious for their propensity to become tumors. That’s the problem with totipotency, Rich.

    2. I looooove how you make a claim and then use for the support of said claim a post you wrote on your own blog. To the point: biology textbooks refute your baseless assertion.

    3. Take a look at the above point. Your house of cards falls down rapidly if you’re unable to argue that ESCR opponents are “forcing their religion” onto people.

    “Stop pushing your ill informed propaganda you troll!”

    Projection at its finest. You peddle propaganda and lies on a blog and then accuse those who prove you wrong of doig the same.

  9. “you wrote on your own blog.”

    Correction: “wrote on someone else’s blog.” Doesn’t alter anything else I’ve written.

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