More Reasons to Oppose Embryonic Stem Cell Research

In addition to the moral argument against the use of somatic-cell nuclear transfer for the creation of a child (“reproductive cloning”), there are overwhelming scientific reasons to oppose this practice.

So writes Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch in the current edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. I‘m not a subscriber, so I can’t access the full text, but Dr. Jaenisch has done some research that you don‘t hear about in the mainstream media:

Only recently a further problem has emerged. Fundamental doubt of the suitability of embryonic stem cells for transplantation has come to the surface because of the genetic instability of cloned cells.

Cloned animals like Dolly give the outward appearance of full health, but the probability of their having numerous genetic defects is very high. Moreover, the entire cloning procedure is extremely ineffective. Most cloned animals die before birth, and of those born alive, not even half survive for three weeks. In the best case, there is a success rate of 3 to 4 percent.

One of the reasons for this high failure rate has now been discovered by the German scientist Rudolf Jaenisch at the Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his colleague, Ryuzo Yanagimachi. Their conception is that in cloning–that is, when the nucleus of a somatic cell is inserted into a denucleated egg cell–the reprogramming of the genes does not proceed properly, so that not all of the genes that are necessary to the early phase of embryonic development, are activated. Even when cloned animals survive at all, probably every clone would have subtle genetic abnormalities that would frequently become noticeable only later in life.

That doesn’t sound like a good procedure for developing all those miracle cures John Kerry and John Edwards promised, does it?

Not only do embryonic stem cells show little promise of curing anything, they actually cause cancer:

So far there has been no solution to the problem of developing in the laboratory an unmistakable identifier for stem cells that can distinguish them unequivocally from cancer cells. For this reason, it is also not possible to produce sufficiently pure cell cultures from stem cells. So far, with embryonic mouse stem cells, a purity of only 80 percent has been achieved. That is in no way sufficient for cell transplantation as a human therapy.

In a cell culture for therapeutic purposes, there must not be a single undifferentiated cell, since it can lead to unregulated growth, in this case to the formation of teratomas, a cancerous tumor derived from the germ layers. This problem would not be expected with adult stem cells, because of their greater differentiation.

It makes me wonder: With over four dozen viable adult stem cell therapies already discovered, why does anyone what to waste time and money on embryonic stem cells?

It comes down to one question: Who stands to make money from this?

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