Three years ago on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Mehmet Oz told Michael J. Fox that his quest down the yellow brick road of embryonic stem cell research may lead to nowhere. It didn’t seem to fully register with him at the time, but now he may be catching on.
In an interview with Dianne Sawyer, Fox and his Foundation partner Debbie Brooks admitted that stem cells may not provide a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, which Fox has. Presumably they were talking about embryonic stem cells (ESCs), though they never specified.
The idea with ESCs is that they are undifferentiated, so you can train them to become any type of cell in the human body. Typically, though, the problem with ESCs is that they are so undifferentiated that they are hard to control and often end up forming cancerous tumors. Fox and Brooks never said exactly what the problem with ESCs for parkinson’s was, just that there were “some challenges” getting a “therapeutic benefit” after putting ESC derived dopamine neurons into the brain. They also never condemned the practice of ESCR or said that it would never work (in fact it’s something they continue to support and look into). It just hasn’t been showing the promise they hoped it would thus far, they say, and they’re focusing more on other options that will produce good results sooner.
It was all, I think, very carefully worded so as not to completely discredit the research they’ve promoted so heavily for so long. Nevertheless, I appreciate Fox’s honesty about the future of ESCs treating his own disease and I hope that someday he will also come to see the humanity of the tiny human beings sacrificed for this research and that, besides being ineffective, it is also unethical and immoral.
I realize this story is several weeks old by now (it came out when I was right in the middle of a major move – which I still am a little bit!), but I still wanted to comment on it because it was celebrity “patient advocates” for ESCR like Michael J. Fox that made me want to start blogging here in the first place. My hope being to at least let a small scale of the general public know that not all people with disabilities accept the creation, use and destruction of innocent human life for our own comfort and that the quality of our lives is not dependent on what we can and cannot do.
I started this blog in 2006 when we were fighting a ballot initiative to make human cloning ESCR a constitutional right in the state of Missouri. Ads supporting the initiative were dominated by people with all kinds of diseases and disabilities, including Fox, himself, and too many people were persuaded by this kind of emotional manipulation. I didn’t want people to look at me and think I supported such barbarity. Hard to believe it’s been almost six years…and I’m still here! In the end, we lost the battle against Amendment 2, but just barely. Amazing when you consider the massive amount of money that was by cloning supporters and how cleverly they tried to manipulate the public with bogus science and heartbreaking stories of people who would never walk again. Turns out there’s just no substitute for the truth.