Tuesday, December 13, 2005

UK researcher dismisses promising research using adult stem cells on the grounds that the US has a political agenda... so how would he respond to UK research into treating spinal cord damage with nasal stem cells since that is happening in London?!

The BBC reports that a woman from Merseyside's will travel to the Netherlands to receive the world's first umbilical cord stem cell treatment for Ataxia. Umbilical cord stem cells have already been used successfully to treatmultiple schlerosis sufferers. The day after the report about Ataxia, the BBC reported further promising research from the United States about adult stem cells. As part of the same report, the BBC quotes the dismissive comments from a UK embryonic stem cell researcher who downplays the success of adult stem cells as part of the "political agenda" in the States. This is ironic for two reasons. Firstly, political agenda or no political agenda, it should be a cause for joy if medical research using adult stem cells is leading to possible treatments and cures because this provides an ethical alternative to destroying embryos for research.

If the real aim of scientists is the cure and treatment of patients and they support all avenues of research, why not encourage research using adult and umbilical cord stem cells, why be against an avenue of research that has no ethical problems? Even if the ethical problems with embryonic stem cells did not exist, they are hardly close to delivering treatments, adult stem cells are ahead for a vast range of conditions and have technical advantages over the problems of embryonic stem cells. Lastly, less than two weeks ago, on 30th November, the Guardian reported "The nose cells that may help the paralysed walk again - Surgeons in London to try revolutionary stem cell technique on crash victims"". Ten operations on young people who have spinal cord damage as a result of motor bike accidents willbe carried out. The team is being led by the neuroscientist Geoffrey Raisman, who heads the spinal repair unit of University College, London and has been researching the use of nasal stem cells for 20 years and has proved that the treatment works in animal models.


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