Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Never Promised You A Rose Garden

On Friday night, while bloglines browsing in a ball gown, I spotted this entry from head potato at Planet Potato.
I then had to head off to a ball, held in the same hotel as the refreshments of Charlie Haughey’s funeral (there were quite a number of interesting characters spotted) so I left an admonishment comment and a promise.
So, never let it be said that I don’t deliver my promises….
Potato said (it’s funny how you can only type something like that. If I actually spoke aloud the words “potato said” to another person, I doubt I would be taken very seriously)
Those of you with some of the following ailments or know someone with one of the following ailments might be interested to know that only two of our MEPs (De Rossa & Avril Doyle) voted in favour of embryonic stemcell research in the EU parliament today.
You see, the funny thing about all this, is that all the conditions mentioned (Parkinsons; Alzheimers; Spinal injuries; Stroke; Heart disease; Arthritis; Burns; Leukemia; Lymphoma) have benefited from stem cell research.
Potato doesn’t want a religious argument – neither do I. The scientific and ethical ones stand alone.
The science – adult stem cell research is making huge progress, new discoveries threatening to change the face of medicine on a nearly hourly basis – they’re hugely successful. And delightfully free from ethical controversy.
In fact, every time I think about adult stem cells, I get to throw out all my old references – they’re just so many new applications.
Stem cells from adult tissue are easier to obtain, don’t carry the risk of tumours,
have immune tolerance when obtained from the patient and have shown the ability to be “reprogrammed” to grow into most cell types.  In fact, only on Thursday, Nature published results from Edinburgh where they have identified Nanog, a molecule involved in the pluripotency of stem cells. Scientists are already predicting the use of Nanog, and other undiscovered molecules as being involved in the conversion of normal fully differentiated adults cells back into stem cells.
Unlike embryonic stem cell research they don’t depend on “leftover” human embryos or cloning to be obtained. They don’t require the destruction of nascent human life to effect cures, which so far are still in the “potential” stage versus the more “actual” cures of adult stem cell research.
Doyle and De Rossa’s stand is not particularly admirable – the hope they claim to offer remains merely a wish, while adult stem cell research is already moving into a reality. If we are serious about advancing medical science and offering the chance of cure to those affected with the conditions listed above, we ought to increase funding for what is already working, for what is acceptable to everyone and for what remains true to the dignity of human life throughout the process from stem cell harvest to the wish to cure.
I could post reams and reams of stuff on adult stem cell successes and applications, but in the interests of brevity and sanity, I won’t – but here are a few pubmed abstracts –
Bone marrow cells in heart failure
Alzheimers (stem cell therapy mightn’t be enough in AD as its pathogenesis has not yet been fully elucidated)
Spinal injuries and Stroke – I find this particularly fascinating – olfactory neuroepithelium – the highly specialised and unusual lining of our noses can possibly be used to grow nerves. Cool, or wha?

P.S. A science writer from the Seoul Times changes his mind about embryonic stem cell research. Watching my new favourite programme Grey’s Anatomy now so haven’t fully read it. (Despite having seen most of series 1 on digital, I’m rewatching due to love of neurosurgery. Well, 1 neurosurgeon in particular)

P.P.S. The title of the post from Lynn Anderson's song is relevant - adult stem cell research is less sexy than embryonic - embryonic stem cell research promises the sun, moon and stars. Adult is more steady and stealthy, but has a rosy present, unlike embryonic's rosy future.
How's that for clumsy title-as-motif blogging?

Update - Disillusioned Lefty and Planet Potato both have posts up and I've commented at them.



Blogger Simon said...

as jon stewart said. "george bush said you cannot kill innocent life to save innocent life. Is that not the exact same thing as america is doing in iraq. In Iraq it is called collatoral damage"

Whether embryonic stem cells or adult cells are better now doesn't matter. The potential to save lives is too great to block any path.

June 18, 2006 9:36 p.m.  
Blogger Kevin Breathnach said...

"...Since the day I became interested in politics, stem-cells and the related controversy has been an omnipresent factor, lingering - sometimes distantly - on the polemical agendum of the respective political camps. The argument against them usually draws on religion and morality..."

Disillusioned Lefty: Stem-Cells

June 18, 2006 9:49 p.m.  
Blogger Kevin Breathnach said...

How's that for clumsy title-as-motif blogging?

Not as bad as the one I almost used for the first post back, "Bernard Levin could probably conujure a preferable titie," in reference to Mr. Levin who after a year on sabbatical, began his first column back, "And another thing."

June 18, 2006 9:54 p.m.  
Blogger Auds said...

"And another thing"

I like that.
You should have used it - when you going to get a chance again?

June 19, 2006 12:14 a.m.  

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