Thursday, November 13, 2008

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Well... we've all heard it on the news. Obama is planning on lifting the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

First of all, I want to make clear that President Bush did not ban private and state research funding... just federal funding. The fact is that embryonic stem cell research within the private-sector has always been permissible without restriction in the United States. I find the demonization of President Bush over this issue to be quite astounding. It also bears noting that there never was federal funding for embryonic stem cell research prior to his taking office.

I believe life begins at conception. I was fortunate enough to not have fertility issues. I cannot stand in judgment of those that seek alternate avenues to procreate but, there are certain procedures that I would not personally involve myself in had that been the case. It pains me to say that because I have not personally experienced the anguish of not being able to bring a child of my own into this world.

I do, however, suffer from Spasmodic Dysphonia which is a form of Dystonia. It is a movement disorder in which the nerve endings in my vocal chords over contract making it difficult for me to speak. Dystonia causes those that suffer from it to have all sorts of uncontrollable muscle movements involving areas such as the face, neck and limbs. It is truly debilitating for those who have it. There are similarities between dystonia and Parkinsons, both of which it is believed that embryonic stem cell research might provide the cure for. I am extremely fortunate in that only my vocal chords are affected. My heart breaks for those who have it much worse than I do. That being said, even though I and many others could possibly benefit from the research, I am still against it.

I do not understand the fervor in which this type of research has been sought. There have been great strides made in adult stem cell research. The embryonic stem cell research that has been done has yet to provide the results that were believed possible. Those out there think that the answer to that is to mandate federal funding... to throw more and more money into research.

I'm just an uneducated housewife but doesn't anyone see the danger here? Is science exempt from ethics? Wouldn't federal funding open the door for the need for more and more embryos? Isn't that creating a market for them? Are Americans willing to sell their soul to advance a science that is unproven? Aren't their doors we ought just not walk through?

Back to Obama... he's making some pretty big promises. We here in America are facing some pretty tough times. Our economy is getting worse by the day. Where is this federal funding going to come from?

I'd like you to read the following excerpt from the AAAS September Research & Development Funding Update:

"Congress has made little progress on the federal government’s budget for fiscal year (FY) 2009, which begins October 1, leaving federal funding for research and development (R&D) in limbo. Congress is preparing to leave Washington for the rest of the year after completing action on a bailout for the financial sector, postponing final budget decisions for most federal agencies until 2009. To keep the government operating, lawmakers approved a continuing resolution (CR) extending funding for all programs in unsigned 2009 appropriations bills at 2008 funding levels through March 6. The CR contains final FY 2009 appropriations for the Departments of Defense (DOD), Homeland Security (DHS), and Veterans Affairs (VA); all three receive substantial increases for their R&D portfolios, but other federal agencies in the remaining 9 of the 12 appropriations bills will be operating temporarily at or below 2008 funding levels for several months. Earlier in the year, congressional appropriators endorsed large increases for the three physical sciences agencies in the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), increases for human spacecraft development, increases for biomedical research in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and increases in other parts of the federal research and development (R&D) portfolio. But instead, most federal programs will continue to operate at or below 2008 funding levels for several months into the new fiscal year. In real terms, the federal investment in basic and applied research has already declined since 2004, and under the CR federal funding of research would decline again in 2009 for the fifth year in a row. "

Again, I ask, where is the funding going to come from? And I would like to know when it became acceptable in this country to FORCE its citizens to participate in ventures that they are morally opposed to? Will this funding come from tax dollars? Or will Congress just order up the printing of additional monies to cover it... and, if so, will those monies be paid back by our tax dollars? How does this work? Someone please tell me.


Two Dogs said...

CB, Bush actually lifted the federal ban, put in place by the Bill Clinton Moronfest. Bush has offered government money on the existing strands already in government research before the ban was put in place, if memory serves, there were seven, but as a disclaimer, I could be wrong on the number. I don't know if there has actually been any fed money spent on it, but past performance would tend to lean toward, "YES! BILLIONS!!!" And you fail to state that embryonic stem cell research has been overwhelming successful in one regard. Every outcome to date has ended with death of the test subject or the creation of SUPER TUMORS! Eeekkk, run away!!!!

One other thing, if there was a promising future in embryonic stem cell research, don't you think that Pfizer would be going all out on it? This is a political footbaw, plain and simple.

Any money spent by the government shall come from you and people like you. Not from me, because they cannot tax what I do not make. The Dow's up today after falling (around noon) below 8000 for the first time since 2003.

Yay! Barry! You have killed Google!

Coffee Bean said...

Hey Two Dogs,

Actually, Clinton's term ended before the plan they drafted could be implemented. There was no federal funding ever for human embryonic stem cell research before the Bush Administration.

There has been federal funding for the lines of human embryonic stem cells that existed prior to the decision to allow that funding for those lines in 2001. The decision to destroy those embryos had already been made. Interestingly, 85% of the world's published results of this type of research comes from those lines. And yes... millions have been spent (the number I saw was 130 million but I suspect that number has risen since the date of the report).

Obama, by lifting the restrictions imposed by the Bush Administration is opening it all up to the unethical and possibly criminal. I suggest anyone who is interested read this:

Two Dogs said...

Your first paragraph is exactly why I say that Bush lifted the ban, no money spent under Clinton.

And you forgot to mention SUPER TUMORS in your last comment. That point needs to be driven home. The two results from embryonic stem cell research include only SUPER TUMORS! and death. It is awesome. I like to use the acronym, CRAP, for embryonic stem cell research.

(Remember, gotta have the all-caps on SUPER TUMORS! As if just regular ol' run of the mill tumors weren't bad enough.)

My post on CRAP from 2005.

Coffee Bean said...

Good post Two Dogs. I hope people take the time to read it and the comments.

I'm going to throw in this very interesting and informative article written in 2004:

The Specious Logic of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

By Dr. Harold Rex Greene

For over a decade, controversy has surrounded proposals to use human embryos to treat diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Scientists have publicly spoken about the "promise" of embryonic stem cells to cure diseases. That "promise" is based on the oft-repeated statement that human embryonic stem cells (often described as "master cells" or "blank cells") possess the unique ability to form all cell types in the human body.

In California we're facing an initiative to amend the state constitution and create a constitutional "right" to perform stem cell research. Under the terms of Proposition 71 - - The California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative - - the state would issue $3 billion in general obligation bonds to fund research that destroys human embryos that are "left over" from IVF, and embryos specially created for the purpose by cloning.

Many in the research community are enthusiastic supporters. While proponents pretend that the measure actually bans the use of funds for human cloning, in fact it merely constrains "human reproductive cloning" by not funding it. So-called "therapeutic cloning" would be made a constitutional right. It would not be banned, but would actually receive priority funding because it is not eligible for federal funds.

Both techniques produce cloned human embryos. With the latter, however, there is no intention to allow the birth of a human being.

This article will focus on the faulty science behind embryonic stem cell research which denies the astonishing complexity of embryonic development.

Many scientists have succumbed to a logical fallacy, based on a naive and simple-minded theory. From the obvious fact that embryonic cells eventually develop into all of the tissues in the body, they conclude that they can remove these cells and make them rebuild damaged, diseased organs in other people's bodies. To describe this exercise in science fiction they have hijacked the term "regenerative medicine."

But their belief is utterly without what scientists call proof of concept, that is, animal studies that confirm their theory. On the contrary, animal studies have gone on for nearly 20 years and proved quite disappointing.

To understand why requires a brief overview of the incredibly complicated messaging system that makes embryonic cells usually go where they need to go and do what they're supposed to do.

During the first eight weeks the embryo changes from a single-celled zygote to a fully formed fetus. The study of embryology demonstrates an amazing choreography, like a symphony with millions of musicians in constant motion, adding more and more players, who change instruments yet never miss a beat.

A variety of signals direct cells to grow, migrate, differentiate, and spontaneously die. Some cells serve only as temporary placeholders while others take up permanent residence at their target organ. Some of the messages that determine embryonic development are intrinsic - - locked in the genetic code. Some are extrinsic - - physical, chemical, and electrical messages between adjacent cells jostling for position.

Much of our genetic code is dedicated to embryonic development and shuts down once a fetus has formed. The reactivation of these genes in the wrong time and place can be disastrous. Mutations in a single cell, allowing such reactivation, can result in malignancies.

Cloning illustrates this complexity. In cloning, the nucleus of a human ovum (egg) is removed and replaced with the nucleus from a body cell. The theory is that the surrounding cytoplasm will "reprogram" the replacement nucleus to revert to its former embryonic functions.

However, most of the time this fails because the transferred nucleus has already been programmed to serve its adult function. This role is by no means simple. For example, as a cheek cell it must constantly replace the lining of the mouth, maintaining a perfect balance of cell growth and death.

It is nothing short of hubris to believe that we can rip embryonic cells out of their normal context in the embryo, inject them into a "host" body, and expect them to perform perfectly every time.

On occasion, a cloned animal embryo develops that can be implanted in a uterus and grown to term. Sometimes bizarre monsters develop that kill the host mother. But a few cloned animals do make it to term - - most, if not all, carrying severe defects. If that same cloned embryo is destroyed for stem cells instead, those stem cells will carry severe defects - - defects that arise from short-circuiting normal development and activating a human being's genetic code all at once.

Cells obtained from blastocysts (one-week-old embryos) created in IVF fare little better. The tissue cultures into which these cells are placed lack the features of the embryonic environment which had orchestrated the development of the cells. Wrenched out of this setting, the cells spontaneously differentiate into precursors of adult tissues: kidneys, hearts, nerves, or, worst of all, tumors. No one would dare inject them into a person. Hence, more and more embryonic stem "lines" will be needed just for basic research.

In short, scientists have failed to demonstrate that they can remove cells from their rightful place in a human embryo and make them perform according to their wishes. There is strong evidence suggesting that we will never be able to do this.

The fallacy of embryonic stem cell research collapses on closer examination. For example, in a patient with Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

or ALS), an immune reaction destroys the nerves in the brain and spinal cord that control muscles. Such a patient could receive embryonic nerve cells that would supposedly replace the dead nerves.

To create genetically matched stem cells, proponents propose to create cloned embryos, which, in theory, would not be rejected. But there are numerous problems.

As recent experiments in South Korea demonstrate, to create cloned embryos, dozens of eggs (if not hundreds more) will be needed, no doubt purchased from women who've undergone super-ovulation. From those eggs a few embryos will successfully develop via nuclear transfer (cloning), which means that identical twins will be created for the purpose of salvaging body parts.

The patient then receives many cloned embryonic cells, virtually all of which most likely have significant genetic defects. Remember, if a single cell misfires, the result of the experiment could be an artificial cancer. Moreover, if the cells miraculously fail to degenerate into cancer cells, other problems remain.

Lou Gehrig's disease has a rapid course, but it takes nerves years to grow back. Meanwhile the disease is still attacking the nervous system and the injected cells. In other words, before this approach could hope to replace the nerves lost in ALS, we would first have to correct the problem that makes the body attack its own nerve cells in the first place.

Why engage in this Faustian bargain of destroying human life for the benefit of others? The truth is that biotech entrepreneurs and ambitious scientists hope to profit from mass-produced cellular therapies at taxpayers' expense. To bolster their feeble theory they make vastly exaggerated claims and cite heart-rending testimonials in lieu of scientific proof.

Sadly, all this is unnecessary. Adult stem cells (including cord blood) already are a 30-year success story. They've gone through natural embryonic development in the patient's own body, and have preserved the ability to self-renew and proliferate as needed.

Recent experiments have even shown that transplanted adult bone marrow stem cells integrate quite nicely into other organs and tissues (heart and brain, for example). They are simply "switching jobs."

The embryonic stem cell entrepreneurs know their venture is extremely speculative. What they don't realize is that they are actually building the equivalent of a 21st century Titanic.

The fact remains that embryonic cells are likely to perform their natural role only in the context of the intact, developing embryo, not as so many harvested crops. Our public resources should be directed towards the development of therapies that have a chance to succeed and carry no moral baggage - - adult and cord-blood stem cells.

Dr. Harold Rex Greene is medical director of the Dorothy E. Schneider Cancer Center in San Mateo, California, clinical professor at USC-Keck School of Medicine, and consultant to the Council on Ethical Affairs of the California Medical Association.

Two Dogs said...

Dr. Greene sounds like a pretty smart dude, but still he didn't use SUPER TUMORS! Who is the big brainy person now, huh?

Coffee Bean said...

Dang Two Dogs! Okay Okay!!!


And so y'all know there is plenty about this... just google it.

Two Dogs said...

In the comment directly above this one, is a perfect example of what we in the scientific community call a "freak-out."

BLBeamer said...

Coffee Bean - I am pretty sure you did not mean to express your astonishment at the "demonetization" of President Bush over this issue. While I am 100% in agreement that the demonetization of President Bush would be an astounding phenomenon, I suggest you may have meant to say "demonization."

BLBeamer said...

I meant to add my comments. I am astounded at President Bush's actions on this issue because it seems to be the one and only thing he does not think the federal government should be funding.

Two Dogs said...

BLBEamer, I made that point about five or six years ago. Bush, CONSERVATIVE? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Yep, the one veto in his first term was on CRAP.

Coffee Bean said...

BLBeamer... ugh. I'll fix it.

And Two Dogs... I've never called President Bush a conservative... He's a pro-life moderate who likes to spend money.

Two Dogs said...

I don't know anyone that has ever called Bush a conservative or far right except for crazy people. CB, you just do not impress as one of those crazy folks.

Roland Hulme said...

Stem cell research is truly a new frontire.

Is it cannibalism? Or is it silly to think of embryos created artificially in a lab as having the same rights as fully grown adults?

In a few years, scientists will be able to grow 'clones' of body parts - maybe even whole bodies. Are they people? Would they be alive? Would they have souls? Could a living person 'grow' a second body to harvest organs from?

One thing is for sure. You can't hold back science. If we don't do it, somebody else will.

They took photos of two new planets yesterday. There might already be life on Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. Scientists are on the verge of creating bona fide 'new' life in a lab. We can clone extinct animals.

The fact is, we are one-by-one ticking off the ability for mankind to accomplish God-like things. For me, since I don't believe in God, I think that's a wonderful thing, but I can understand your moral concerns. Remember, only the most arrogant people assume 'morality' is a Christian thing. Basic morality is a human concept and we have to ask ourselves where the boundries lie (remember the holocaust? Which the Catholic church was also complicit in? Why did regular folk, the German equivilents of you and I, let that happen?)

Many Christians have called AIDS, for example, the 'gay plague' and a 'punishment from God.'

Yesterday, science cured a man of AIDS.

We're on the brink of mankind elevating themselves to virtual Godhood. Even as an Atheist, I can fully understand your concerns with that.

Two Dogs said...

I still refer to AIDS as GRID, because that is what the scientists called it until the politicians in San Fran went to the ACLU and started the lawsuit.

GRID would have never left the homosexual community had politicians not wanted to keep from upsetting a constituency, but that is not the issue.

The issue is political involvement in science makes for stupid scientists, because the political soup of the day has to be appeased to grab money.

Sure, keep trying that embryonic stem cell research because if there is anything that is lacking in this world, it's SUPER TUMORS!

Roland Hulme said...

"GRID would have never left the homosexual community had politicians not wanted to keep from upsetting a constituency."

How could you POSSIBLY validate that statement?

Two Dogs said...

Geez, Roland, every single person in the world knew where it was coming from at the time. They refused to check for Hep at the blood banks for fear of upsetting the homosexual community. This is only documented to the nth degree. And they wanted to shut the bath houses down in San Fran, too. That didn't happen until Reagan almost had to call out the National Guard. Do some research.

Two Dogs said...

Or better yet, ask a Hemophiliac. Oh wait, they almost eradicated Hemophilia because they wouldn't do the necessary testing in the blood banks. Arthur Ashe contracted GRID from a transfusion, too, remember? Research trumps feelings and political correctness every time.

Coffee Bean said...

Hmmm... one of my brother's best friends in high school was a Hemophiliac that died from Aids... that he contracted through a blood transfusion. That was in the mid 80's.

Two Dogs said...

Yup, the government cover up almost "cured" Hemophilia.

Roland Hulme said...

The earliest confirmed AIDS victims:

Arvid Noe - a Norweigen sailor who passed the disease onto his wife and children in 1976 (confirmed in 1988.) He'd picked it up in Africa, having sex with (female) prostitutes.

Grethe Rask - a heterosexual Danish surgeon who caught it from a patient in Africa while she was doing aid work in Zaire in 1977.

1979 Herbert Heinrich, a bisexual violinist, caught the infection from a FEMALE prostitute some people say ws infected originally by Arvid Noe.

And from that point on, the majority of AIDS victims were heterosexual Haitian refugees, outnumbering infected gay men two to one.

AIDS was brought to this country by heterosexuals, most likely. It just spread faster in the homosexual community because of the nature of their sexual activity.

It would never have 'stayed' a 'gay disease' because it wasn't one to begin with.

In Africa, it's spreading fastest amongst heterosexuals.

It's only in the first world that it's the 'gay' disease.

Your version of events is typically distorted by your narrow minded agenda.

You might as well argue that AIDS is the 'black' disease, since is passes so much more easily between people of African heritage.

Two Dogs said...

Roland, NORWEGIAN SAILOR. Heeellllllooooooo?

Just Me said...

Maybe I'm not as informed on the science as I should be, but why can't they use stem cells from umbilical cord blood? Why must we use stem cells from embryos?

I thought stem cells were stem cells. What's the difference here?

Two Dogs said...

Just Me, call me a cynic, but using the stem cells from any living things is not killing babies for science. You're missing the whole point of the exercise.

We must kill babies in order for science to flourish according to the morons.

That craziness said, researchers are using umbilical cord cells and experiencing great success. The only drawback, from the morality vampire way, is that there are no SUPER TUMORS! created with UC research.

Adult stem cell research and application is also very successful. The only stem cell research that has never produced a single positive result is that using embryonic stem cells. Those studies have proven to be 100% failures, that is why no one is doing those studies anymore unless they use government money. It's a financial loser.

Two Dogs said...

And one more thing, the failure from embryonic stem cell research has been determined to be caused by the fact that ESCs do not yet have the "memory" of the function they are supposed to perform. Instead, those ESCs try to do EVERYTHING all at once and that is what causes the explosion of mock cancer cells.

Two Dogs said...

Well, shocker! Wonder which way that the Washpo wants to go on the embryos? The media shall prod Da Barry and use dishonesty to convince him to do stupid things.

Barry says, "Oooo, shiny! Bucket bad."