Oct 13 2007

More Embryonic Stem Cell Snake Oil

Published by at 7:39 am under All General Discussions,Stem Cell Debate

I have written many times about the exaggerated claims surrounding Embryonic Stem Cell made by people who should know better. The reality is Embyronic Stem Cells cannot be controlled in terms of guiding them to assume the form of replacement cells and tissues to battle diseases. In fact they tend to create tumors and cancers when unleashed. The mechanisms required to control the sequencing of the 30,000-40,000 genes in the human genome in these cells will take maybe half a century of investigation to unravel and control. Maybe even longer. Those who claim cures are right around the corner are not be honest. And today we have an example of how far that dihonesty can go.

In Australia a world-reknowend stem cell researcher is now under investigation for publishing results inconsistent with the results seen in his laboratory. This person is slated to run one of the largest Stem Cell labs in the US:

WORLD-renowned Melbourne scientist Alan Trounson’s $1m stem cell research project is under investigation after it was scrapped for delivering highly doubtful results.

Monash University is examining anomalies in interim findings from the lung regeneration research conducted in its labs with public money.

Prof Trounson — a doctor of philosophy who was headhunted to run the world’s richest stem cell outfit in the US next year — was the project’s principal investigator.

The research was done by a team of about 13 scientists, including postgraduate students, to see how stem cells might help slow lung disease in cystic fibrosis sufferers.

Interestingly the man is not even a doctor of biology but of Philosophy. I would wager there are numerous, more scientifically qualified people out there. But it seems CA selected this man to run their $3B program. But what is really telling about this story is this is not the firts time the ‘good doctor’ has been in trouble about his results in stem cell research:

Prof Trounson issued an apology for misleading Parliament in 2002 after he showed MPs a video of a paralysed rat that he said was able to walk after being treated with embryonic stem cells.

It later emerged that a different type of cell – a germ cell – had been used in the treatment.

The ‘doctor’ could not tell the difference between a stem cell and a germ cell (egg or sperrm)? What kind of biologist mistakes and egg or sperm for an embryo when extracting stem cells? They don’t even look the same (not to mention the number of cells in involved in each case). If you read the full article you find one of his team is, at the moment, the focus of the investigation, and he has a very insightful excuse:

It is believed that one researcher is the focus of the investigation.

When approached by the Herald Sun this week, the researcher believed to be under investigation claimed commercial interests had caused the funding cut.

Is this a bit of projection? Given the amounts of money involved here it is not beyond the reasonable speculation to envision these people would shade results in order to get lots of money for themselves and their laboratories. The ‘good doctor’ is still responsible, though, for all the actions of his team and making sure what he signs off on (and he did sign off on the results) are accurate. At a minimum he is sloppy – and this is the man who is coming to San Francisco to deal with very sick people who need serious help.

The fact all the positive and hopeful results for new therapies are in Adult Stem Cell Research. Here is a story abouthow the patient’s own Adult Stem Cells might be available soon to repair cardiac system damage. Here is a story about how Adult Stem Cells could help people with a muscular autoimmune disease, where the body starts rejecting its own tissues. I would gather that this latter study could lead to some therapies on another autoimmune disease – AIDS.

The bottom line is this. The process of controlling Adult Stem Cells to transform is being worked out rapidly. Mainly because they are already partially transformed into a class of very useful cells in the first place. Being more than halfway done changing means you have less than half the puzzle to still work out. But Adult Stem Cell Research has even done one better – they have made it unnecessary to create life in order to harvest embryonic stem cells. Now skin cells can be transformed back into embryonic stem cell states.

Think about that. We don’t have to make or take any human beings in their very early stages of life and destroy them for the stem cells. We can take the patient’s skin and make a batch of stem cells tuned to his or her own DNA. There is a chance in this world we could have more embryos growing in stem cell factories to be slaughtered like cattle than embryos growing in mothers’ wombs waiting to be born and start a new life. Is this the kind of Matrix-like world we want to create? Where half or more than half of our off spring are used to make spare parts for the rest of us?

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “More Embryonic Stem Cell Snake Oil”

  1. BarbaraS says:

    I wonder at the dems taking up causes that defy common sense like embryonic stem cell research, global warming, high taxes and welfare for life programs. All these things have been refuted with proof and facts but the dems keep on pushing them. All this is really about abortion, taxes and vote buying.

  2. The Macker says:

    A good and thoughtful post.Kudos.

    Agree, the Left uses bogus science to advance its socialist, anti-human agenda.