Aug. 25, 2010
FRC Senior Fellow for Life Sciences David Prentice, comments on this week's court injunction against federal funding of embryonic stem cell research in an op-ed at AOL News:
(Aug. 25) -- The U.S. District Court injunction that stops federal taxpayer funding of human embryonic stem cell research should make patients happy.
The judge ruled that federal funding for embryonic stem cell research violates a current law, passed annually since the Clinton administration, prohibiting government funding for research that involves the destruction of human embryos.
He added that there is a limited amount of federal funding for stem cells, and funding embryonic stem cells competes with adult stem cells. But only adult stem cells are treating people. The good news is that this ruling should free up more funding for adult stem cell research -- which is legal, uncontroversial and already helping treat thousands of patients.
Here are just a few examples of the published scientific successes of adult stem cells:
- Italian doctors used patients' own adult stem cells to grow new corneal tissue to restore sight to people blinded by chemical burns, including one patient who had been blind for 50 years.
- German doctors reported in June the results of a five-year study on patients with chronic heart failure. The 191 patients treated with their own bone marrow adult stem cells showed significant improvement in heart function, with decreased death and no side effects.
- Another recent Italian success involved growing new windpipes for cancer patients. Doctors used cadaver windpipes stripped of their cells, bathed the cartilage with the patients' bone marrow stem cells and then transplanted the reconstructed windpipes. The two young women were released from the hospital just weeks after their surgery, and are now in good condition.
- In August, University of Minnesota scientists transplanted donor adult stem cells into children with a fatal genetic skin disease and repaired the damage. The scientists said regarding adult stem cell treatments, "Patients who otherwise would have died from their disease can often now be cured. It's a serious treatment for a serious disease."