Monday, 7 May 2007

More Embryonic Stem Cell Hype

Here is the latest in the MSM (HT in support of stem cell research. This time we are all to become teary eyed with hope for grandma with macular degeneration. The headline is: Embryonic stem cells can repair eyes, company says. The article begins:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Stem cells made from human embryos can home in on damaged eyes, hearts and arteries of mice and rats, and appear to start repairs, a U.S. company said on Monday.
Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology said it had devised a straightforward way to make blood vessel precursor cells out of the stem cells and plans to test them in humans.

"We figured out how to produce literally billions of so-called 'hemangioblasts' -- the mythical cell in the embryo that gives rise to our entire blood and immune system as well as to the blood vessels in our body," Dr. Robert Lanza, vice president of research and scientific development at ACT, said in an e-mail.

OK, so the company feels that they can make hemangioblasts, which may be helpful in some ocular (and non-ocular) disorders. The article continues:

They directed the stem cells into becoming what they believe are hemangioblasts, the blood vessel precursor cells, although other teams will have to replicate this for it to be accepted.

So now there is doubt that these are in fact the cells promoted in the early paragraphs. And it is unclear how the studies will translate into healing human disease.

The researchers killed the mice to check the cells' progress, so they do not know the long-term effects.

"The cells also showed remarkable reparative capacity in animals with heart attacks and ischemic (blocked by a blood clot) limbs. The cells reduce the mortality rate by 50 percent after a massive heart attack," Lanza said.

"If the same thing works in humans (these would be the same human cells we would probably use), you might be able to prevent patients from having legs and other limbs amputated by simply injecting some cells."

Sounds so simple. No long term animal data, not yet one human study, but we have a cure promoted. And of course no pro-embryonic stem cell article would be complete without taking a shot at conservatives and Bush in particular.

The U.S. Congress has passed several bills that would expand federal funding of
human embryonic stem cell research but President George W. Bush vetoed one and
has said he will veto any more.

How this is promoted as a breakthrough in the treatment of eye disease is beyond me. There is no mention of the many successes of adult stem cell research. The agenda is clear; promote embryonic stem cell research as miraculous even at its earliest stage and bury anything positive concerning non-embryonic stem cell successes. Amazing!

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