Blessing in disguise

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A U.S. District judge’s decision this week to stop, at least temporarily, federal funding of embryonic stem cell research comes on the heels of recent reports that adult stem cell research is where true advances are being made by researchers.

    The federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on Monday that halted the Obama administration’s reversal of a policy held during the Bush administration in which an executive order by Bush had banned federally funded embryonic stem cell research. President Obama signed his executive order countering the Bush policy just two months into his presidency.
    But the judge’s ruling this week claims that the embryonic stem cell research violates Congress’ Dickey-Wicker Amendment which prohibits the use of federal funds for all research in which a human embryo is destroyed. The truth is, researchers are finding real success through the use of adult stem cells while, after spending billions of dollars on embryonic stem cell research, that well continues to come up dry.
    There are promising signs through adult stem cell research and those should continue to be pursued.
    Adult stem cells, for years, have been utilized in bone marrow transplants and have been used to treat thousands of people suffering from such illnesses as leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases. But recent findings are dramatically expanding what might be possible to accomplish through the use of adult stem cells.
    One such case involves a doctor’s work at Boston University Medical Center in which a patient with a broken ankle was treated with adult stem cells. Multiple surgeries were attempted to repair the ankle, but nothing worked until the doctor drew bone marrow from the patient and injected it into the ankle. The patient’s ankle healed completely following that procedure.
    And there’s more.
    Adult stem cells have been found to stimulate tissue repair and are not rejected because they come from the patient’s own body. Dr. Rocky Tuan of the University of Pittsburgh stated that “gives adult stem cells really a very interesting and potent quality that embryonic stem cells don’t have.”
    The fact is, much of the debate over the use of embryonic stem cells vs adult stem cells has concentrated more on politics than actual research. Pro-abortion forces scoffed at Bush’s denial of federal funding for embryonic research based, not on the actual success of research, but rather on the fact that his stance was part of the pro-life agenda. For all the hoopla that surrounded Michael J. Fox’s plea for the funding because of his battle with Parkinson’s disease, the only real advances that could help him are being made through adult stem cell research.
    Adult stem cells are being studied, according to the Associated Press, “in people who suffer from multiple sclerosis, heart attacks and diabetes” and could be used to help some patients avoid leg amputation.
    The judge’s recent ruling might be a blessing in disguise for those who really want to see advances in stem cell research. If funding dries up for embryonic stem cell research, those funds might be used where the real advances are being made – those working with adult stem cells.