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Let’s Get Back to the Future

While it is news that Michael J. Fox is finally admitting embryonic stem cells (ESCs) won’t cure him (or anything), those of us opposed have known this for years. Even Susan G. Komen realized last year that funding ESC research was throwing good money after bad science.

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, the way ESC research does. Instead, let’s get back to the future of stem cell research by reviewing the scientific facts.

The very science that makes embryonic stem cells exciting is what causes so many problems. The exciting aspect of ESCs is that they have the potential to be transformed into any body cell type. On the surface, this seems like such an awesome discovery that “Who cares how we derive these cells, let’s just make tons of them!”

Then reality sinks in… You know what else can make any body cell type? Cancer. That is exactly the issue with most ESC studies: instead of cures, tumors result. So far, research with ESCs has lead to destruction of human embryos, cloning of human embryos, tumors, and no real cures. It’s odd that science and the liberal left has taken ESCs “potential” and relentlessly pursued that potential, to no avail, while simultaneously having no problem with discarding embryos in abortion that have the greatest potential of all: that of a human being.

Funding adult stem cells (ASCs), on the other hand, has resulted in cures with no destruction of human life! Using ASCs, then, ought to be a no-brainer, but many people still propose using ESCs instead based on emotional and not scientific arguments. Then there are others, such as this man, who began his journey believing ESCs were the panacea, but discovered that it was actually ASCs that effected the cure. Yes, even scientists get caught up in the exciting aspects of their studies, and sometimes fail to realize many discoveries were made by accident by very dull mechanisms. Plus, scientists are as human as everyone else; we have our pride, too. It’s pride that makes scientists want to find a cure in ESCs because it would be exciting and new. Whereas finding a cure using ASCs…not so much, since ASCs are found in common tissues like blood and bone marrow. Nor is finding a cure with ASCs new; the list of diseases currently being successfully treated with ASCs is very long.

However, new discoveries are constantly being made with ASCs, so scientists shouldn’t worry they’ll be left behind. The University of Michigan is using cancer stem cells to study cancer. This may sound obvious, but the beauty of this type of study is that cancer patients are physically contributing to cancer research when they “donate” their tumors.

Another interesting source of embryonic-like stem cells is breast milk. We’ve all heard “Breast is Best”–especially as a new mother–but current studies have shown that these embryonic-like stem cells are present in breast milk in fairly high quantities. The presence of these stem cells may be one of the largest factors in why breast is best. One of the researchers responsible for these findings is also looking into comparing how normal functioning breast stem cells differ from cancerous (malfunctioning) breast stem cells.

In college, I had the opportunity to do research with ESCs. Although we were using chicken embryos, the implications were clear to me. Even without the moral considerations, it was obvious the ESCs we isolated were highly difficult to work with and maintain. Not only that, but they also were very unpredictable. Using the same methods each time, I would generate different cells or sometimes no cells.

From my perspective, the repeated failures of ESCs prove that God’s plan is not for embryos to be produced only to be destroyed, especially in light of the ASC successes. As a Catholic scientist, I don’t have to choose being a Christian over science; the two are mutually compatible and work together harmoniously if you seek the truth–and nothing but.


By Erika

Erika V. is a thirty-something mother of two (with four saints in heaven). With a degree in molecular biology, she works for her state’s police crime lab; although her dream is to stay home with her children and homeschool them. Her newly converted husband is a sometime auto mechanic and primarily a stay-at-home dad. Passionate about pro-life issues and science, she is a survivor of breast cancer while pregnant. At 20 weeks pregnant with her daughter (pregnancy number six), she was diagnosed with BRCA1 stage II breast cancer. When local doctors we stumped with the diagnosis, she traveled to MDAnderson where chemotherapy on pregnant women has been done for over twenty years. After delivering her baby girl and undergoing more chemotherapy, Erika has had a whirlwind of surgeries to combat the cancer as well as the complications of cancer treatments. Three years and eight surgeries later, she continues to be passionate about pro-life endeavors, even winning the local Right to Life group’s Life Award and serving on their working board of directors. She authors two blogs, one a mommy blog Biology Brain-Simon Says and one a breast cancer while pregnant blog Erika’s Miracle Journey. Blog posts are often filled with pro-life references, including medical journal articles supporting the pro-life position. While there isn’t often time, she also enjoys horses, reading, gardening, and KY bourbon.

2 replies on “Let’s Get Back to the Future”

“It’s odd that science and the liberal left has taken ESCs “potential” and relentlessly pursued that potential, to no avail, while simultaneously having no problem with discarding embryos in abortion that have the greatest potential of all: that of a human being.”

I assume you are using heavy irony here? It isn’t at all odd that in a Scientistic, Libertarian society, no more so in the USA but also here in the UK, there is scant regard for human life or indeed any respect for truth.

An excellent post well argued.

This is a wonderfully researched and written post, but one has to wonder what it will take to end the mad science! This morally bankrupt research still continues and finds fervent support in many quarters! As reported by ABC (and linked in your post):

‘According to ABC, Fox said he still strongly believes in stem cell research and government support of those studies, praising ongoing research at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital.’

Lord help our nation!

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