This is great news you won’t hear much about in our pro-embryonic stem cell research media. Michael Fumento reports:
While the Democratic-controlled House voted 253-174 to expand federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, it fell far short of the 290 votes needed to override a virtually guaranteed presidential veto. A tragedy for victims of everything from Alzheimer’s to warts? Not at all. Each year there are stunning breakthroughs with adult stem cells, and 2007 has already brought its first.
Adult stem cells cure and treat more 70 diseases and are involved in almost 1,300 human clinical trials. Scientists also keep discovering that adult stem cells are capable of creating a wider variety of mature cells. Perhaps the most promising of these was announced in the January issue of Nature Biotechnology.
Anthony Atala, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, reported that stem cells in the amniotic fluid that fills the sac surrounding the fetus may be just as versatile as embryonic stem cells. At the same time they maintain all the advantages that have made adult stem cells such a success.
This has caused great consternation on the part of those seeking increased taxpayer embryonic stem cell funds. The reason is that there are currently no practical applications for this type of cell. There hasn’t even been a single clinical trial involving them. Researchers admit we won’t have approved embryonic stem cell treatments for at least 10 years.
One advantage of embryonic stem cells has been that most types of adult stem cells cannot be multiplied outside of the body for very long, while embryonic ones may replicate in the lab indefinitely.
But Atala’s new amniotic stem cells grow as fast outside the body as embryonic stem cells (doubling every 36 hours), and he’s now been growing the same cell line for two years, with no indication of slowing.
That leaves embryonic stem cells with only one possible advantage â€“ potential.
There are over four million births each year in the United States, yet Atala calculates that merely 100,000 amniotic stem cell specimens could supply 99 percent of the U.S. population’s needs for perfect matches for transplants. (That assumes a perfect match is even needed.) About 700,000 amniocentesis procedures are performed in the United States and Western Europe each year. Some embryonic stem cell researchers have downplayed the Atala findings. The work will “still require a lot of replication from other groups before they can be conclusive,” Stephen Minger, an embryonic stem cell scientist identified only as a “lecturer in stem-cell biology” told a British newspaper. “They have only shown that these particular stem cells can turn into a couple of different types of other stem cells. I would say that a hell of a lot more work is required.” Other media outlets would say the same. Newsweek International claimed, “Many scientists are quick to emphasize that comprehensive human trials are still many years away.”
The New York Times refused even to allow people to read between the lines â€“ they simply never reported the news about Atala’s work. When a reader complained to the “Public Editor,” an online ombudsman, about the omission, the Times responded that its genetics reporter, Nicholas Wade, “looked at the Atala paper last week and deemed it a minor development.” Wade said of the paper, “It reports finding ‘multipotent’ stem cells in amniotic fluid. Multipotent means they can’t do as much as bona fide embryonic stem cells (which are called ‘pluripotent’).”
Read the rest here.
The NYT virtual blackout on any news contra embryonic stem cell research is a dereliction of their duty to inform rather than advocate -a dereliction of the highest order. It looks almost deliberate as the snow job embryonic stem cell research advocates pulled on the state of Missouri last year.
Write NYT Public Editor Byron Calame and let him know what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org