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Thread: Charles Krauthammer: A Secular Argument Against Research Cloning

  1. #1

    Charles Krauthammer: A Secular Argument Against Research Cloning

    I believe that it is important to know the arguments of the cloning opponents:

    Crossing Lines
    by Charles Krauthammer

    Post date 04.22.02 | Issue date 04.29.02 テつ*E-mail this article

    The Problem
    You were once a single cell. Every one of the 100 trillion cells in your body today is a direct descendent of that zygote, the primordial cell formed by the union of mother's egg and father's sperm. Each one is genetically identical (allowing for copying errors and environmental damage along the way) to that cell. Therefore, if we scraped a cell from, say, the inner lining of your cheek, its DNA would be the same DNA that, years ago in the original zygote, contained the entire plan for creating you and every part of you.

    Here is the mystery: Why can the zygote, as it multiplies, produce every different kind of cell in the body--kidney, liver, brain, skin--while the skin cell is destined, however many times it multiplies, to remain skin forever? As the embryo matures, cells become specialized and lose their flexibility and plasticity. Once an adult cell has specialized- differentiated, in scientific lingo--it is stuck forever in that specialty. Skin is skin; kidney is kidney.

    Understanding that mystery holds the keys to the kingdom. The Holy Grail of modern biology is regenerative medicine. If we can figure out how to make a specialized adult cell dedifferentiate--unspecialize, i.e., revert way back to the embryonic stage, perhaps even to the original zygotic stage--and then grow it like an embryo under controlled circumstances, we could reproduce for you every kind of tissue or organ you might need. We could create a storehouse of repair parts for your body. And, if we let that dedifferentiated cell develop completely in a woman's uterus, we will have created a copy of you, your clone.

    That is the promise and the menace of cloning. It has already been done in sheep, mice, goats, pigs, cows, and now cats and rabbits (though cloning rabbits seems an exercise in biological redundancy). There is no reason in principle why it cannot be done in humans. The question is: Should it be done?

    Notice that the cloning question is really two questions: (1) May we grow that dedifferentiated cell all the way into a cloned baby, a copy of you? That is called reproductive cloning. And (2) may we grow that dedifferentiated cell just into the embryonic stage and then mine it for parts, such as stem cells? That is called research cloning.

    Reproductive cloning is universally abhorred. In July 2001 the House of Representatives, a fairly good representative of the American people, took up the issue and not a single member defended reproductive cloning. Research cloning, however, is the hard one. Some members were prepared to permit the cloning of the human embryo in order to study and use its component parts, with the proviso that the embryo be destroyed before it grows into a fetus or child. They were a minority, however. Their amendment banning baby-making but permitting research cloning was defeated by 76 votes. On July 31, 2001, a bill outlawing all cloning passed the House decisively.

    Within weeks, perhaps days, the Senate will vote on essentially the same alternatives. On this vote will hinge the course of the genetic revolution at whose threshold we now stand.


    The Promise
    This is how research cloning works. You take a donor egg from a woman, remove its nucleus, and inject the nucleus of, say, a skin cell from another person. It has been shown in animals that by the right manipulation you can trick the egg and the injected nucleus into dedifferentiating--that means giving up all the specialization of the skin cell and returning to its original state as a primordial cell that could become anything in the body.

    In other words, this cell becomes totipotent. It becomes the equivalent of the fertilized egg in normal procreation, except that instead of having chromosomes from two people, it has chromosomes from one. This cell then behaves precisely like an embryo. It divides. It develops. At four to seven days, it forms a "blastocyst" consisting of about 100 to 200 cells.

    The main objective of cloning researchers would be to disassemble this blastocyst: pull the stem cells out, grow them in the laboratory, and then try to tease them into becoming specific kinds of cells, say, kidney or heart or brain and so on.

    There would be two purposes for doing this: study or cure. You could take a cell from a person with a baffling disease, like Lou Gehrig's, clone it into a blastocyst, pull the stem cells out, and then study them in order to try to understand the biology of the illness. Or you could begin with a cell from a person with Parkinson's or a spinal cord injury, clone it, and tease out the stem cells to develop tissue that you would reinject into the original donor to, in theory, cure the Parkinson's or spinal cord injury. The advantage of using a cloned cell rather than an ordinary stem cell is that, presumably, there would be no tissue rejection. It's your own DNA. The body would recognize it. You'd have a perfect match.

    (Research cloning is sometimes called therapeutic cloning, but that is a misleading term. First, because therapy by reinjection is only one of the many uses to which this cloning can be put. Moreover, it is not therapeutic for the clone--indeed, the clone is invariably destroyed in the process--though it may be therapeutic for others. If you donate a kidney to your brother, it would be odd to call your operation a therapeutic nephrectomy. It is not. It's a sacrificial nephrectomy.)

    The conquest of rejection is one of the principal rationales for research cloning. But there is reason to doubt this claim on scientific grounds. There is some empirical evidence in mice that cloned tissue may be rejected anyway (possibly because a clone contains a small amount of foreign- mitochondrial--DNA derived from the egg into which it was originally injected). Moreover, enormous advances are being made elsewhere in combating tissue rejection. The science of immune rejection is much more mature than the science of cloning. By the time we figure out how to do safe and reliable research cloning, the rejection problem may well be solved. And finally, there are less problematic alternatives--such as adult stem cells--that offer a promising alternative to cloning because they present no problem of tissue rejection and raise none of cloning's moral conundrums.

    These scientific considerations raise serious questions about the efficacy of, and thus the need for, research cloning. But there is a stronger case to be made. Even if the scientific objections are swept aside, even if research cloning is as doable and promising as its advocates contend, there are other reasons to pause.

    The most obvious is this: Research cloning is an open door to reproductive cloning. Banning the production of cloned babies while permitting the production of cloned embryos makes no sense. If you have factories all around the country producing embryos for research and commerce, it is inevitable that someone will implant one in a woman (or perhaps in some artificial medium in the farther future) and produce a human clone. What then? A law banning reproductive cloning but permitting research cloning would then make it a crime not to destroy that fetus--an obvious moral absurdity.

    This is an irrefutable point and the reason that many in Congress will vote for the total ban on cloning. Philosophically, however, it is a showstopper. It lets us off too early and too easy. It keeps us from facing the deeper question: Is there anything about research cloning that in and of itself makes it morally problematic?


    Objection I: Intrinsic Worth
    For some people, life begins at conception. And not just life--if life is understood to mean a biologically functioning organism, even a single cell is obviously alive--but personhood. If the first zygotic cell is owed all the legal and moral respect due a person, then there is nothing to talk about. Ensoulment starts with Day One and Cell One, and the idea of taking that cell or its successor cells apart to serve someone else's needs is abhorrent.

    This is an argument of great moral force but little intellectual interest. Not because it may not be right. But because it is unprovable. It rests on metaphysics. Either you believe it or you don't. The discussion ends there.

    I happen not to share this view. I do not believe personhood begins at conception. I do not believe a single cell has the moral or legal standing of a child. This is not to say that I do not stand in awe of the developing embryo, a creation of majestic beauty and mystery. But I stand in equal awe of the Grand Canyon, the spider's web, and quantum mechanics. Awe commands wonder, humility, appreciation. It does not command inviolability. I am quite prepared to shatter an atom, take down a spider's web, or dam a canyon for electricity. (Though we'd have to be very short on electricity before I'd dam the Grand.)

    I do not believe the embryo is entitled to inviolability. But is it entitled to nothing? There is a great distance between inviolability, on the one hand, and mere "thingness," on the other. Many advocates of research cloning see nothing but thingness. That view justifies the most ruthless exploitation of the embryo. That view is dangerous.

    Why? Three possible reasons. First, the Brave New World Factor: Research cloning gives man too much power for evil. Second, the Slippery Slope: The habit of embryonic violation is in and of itself dangerous. Violate the blastocyst today and every day, and the practice will inure you to violating the fetus or even the infant tomorrow. Third, Manufacture: The very act of creating embryos for the sole purpose of exploiting and then destroying them will ultimately predispose us to a ruthless utilitarianism about human life itself.


    Objection II: The Brave New World Factor
    The physicists at Los Alamos did not hesitate to penetrate, manipulate, and split uranium atoms on the grounds that uranium atoms possess intrinsic worth that entitled them to inviolability. Yet after the war, many fought to curtail atomic power. They feared the consequences of delivering such unfathomable power--and potential evil--into the hands of fallible human beings. Analogously, one could believe that the cloned blastocyst has little more intrinsic worth than the uranium atom and still be deeply troubled by the manipulation of the blastocyst because of the fearsome power it confers upon humankind.

    The issue is leverage. Our knowledge of how to manipulate human genetics (or atomic nuclei) is still primitive. We could never construct ex nihilo a human embryo. It is an unfolding organism of unimaginable complexity that took nature three billion years to produce. It might take us less time to build it from scratch, but not much less. By that time, we as a species might have acquired enough wisdom to use it wisely. Instead, the human race in its infancy has stumbled upon a genie infinitely too complicated to create or even fully understand, but understandable enough to command and perhaps even control. And given our demonstrated unwisdom with our other great discovery--atomic power: As we speak, the very worst of humanity is on the threshold of acquiring the most powerful weapons in history--this is a fear and a consideration to be taken very seriously.

    For example. Female human eggs seriously limit the mass production of cloned embryos. Extracting eggs from wom en is difficult, expensive, and potentially dangerous. The search is on, therefore, for a good alternative. Scientists have begun injecting human nuclei into the egg cells of animals. In 1996 Massachusetts scientists injected a human nucleus with a cow egg. Chinese scientists have fused a human fibroblast with a rabbit egg and have grown the resulting embryo to the blastocyst stage. We have no idea what grotesque results might come from such interspecies clonal experiments.

    In October 2000 the first primate containing genes from another species was born (a monkey with a jellyfish gene). In 1995 researchers in Texas produced headless mice. In 1997 researchers in Britain produced headless tadpoles. In theory, headlessness might be useful for organ transplantation. One can envision, in a world in which embryos are routinely manufactured, the production of headless clones--subhuman creatures with usable human organs but no head, no brain, no consciousness to identify them with the human family.

    The heart of the problem is this: Nature, through endless evolution, has produced cells with totipotent power. We are about to harness that power for crude human purposes. That should give us pause. Just around the corner lies the logical by-product of such power: human-animal hybrids, partly developed human bodies for use as parts, and other horrors imagined--Huxley's Deltas and Epsilons--and as yet un imagined. This is the Brave New World Factor. Its grounds for objecting to this research are not about the beginnings of life, but about the ends; not the origin of these cells, but their destiny; not where we took these magnificent cells from, but where they are taking us.

    Objection III: The Slippery Slope
    The other prudential argument is that once you start tearing apart blastocysts, you get used to tearing apart blastocysts. And whereas now you'd only be doing that at the seven-day stage, when most people would look at this tiny clump of cells on the head of a pin and say it is not inviolable, it is inevitable that some scientist will soon say: Give me just a few more weeks to work with it and I could do wonders.

    That will require quite a technological leap because the blastocyst will not develop as a human organism unless implanted in the uterus. That means that to go beyond that seven-day stage you'd have to implant this human embryo either in an animal uterus or in some fully artificial womb.

    Both possibilities may be remote, but they are real. And then we'll have a scientist saying: Give me just a few more months with this embryo, and I'll have actual kidney cells, brain cells, pancreatic cells that I can transplant back into the donor of the clone and cure him. Scientists at Advanced Cell Technology in Massachusetts have already gone past that stage in animals. They have taken cloned cow embryos past the blastocyst stage, taken tissue from the more developed cow fetus, and reimplanted it back into the donor animal.

    The scientists' plea to do the same in humans will be hard to ignore. Why grow the clone just to the blastocyst stage, destroy it, pull out the inner cell mass, grow stem cells out of that, propagate them in the laboratory, and then try chemically or otherwise to tweak them into becoming kidney cells or brain cells or islet cells? This is Rube Goldberg. Why not just allow that beautiful embryonic machine, created by nature and far more sophisticated than our crude techniques, to develop unmolested? Why not let the blastocyst grow into a fetus that possesses the kinds of differentiated tissue that we could then use for curing the donor?

    Scientifically, this would make sense. Morally, we will have crossed the line between tearing apart a mere clump of cells and tearing apart a recognizable human fetus. And at that point, it would be an even smaller step to begin carving up seven- and eight-month-old fetuses with more perfectly formed organs to alleviate even more pain and suffering among the living. We will, slowly and by increments, have gone from stem cells to embryo farms to factories with fetuses in various stages of development and humanness, hanging (metaphorically) on meat hooks waiting to be cut open to be used by the already born.

    We would all be revolted if a living infant or developed fetus were carved up for parts. Should we build a fence around that possibility by prohibiting any research on even the very earliest embryonic clump of cells? Is the only way to avoid the slide never to mount the slippery slope at all? On this question, I am personally agnostic. If I were utterly convinced that we would never cross the seven-day line, then I would have no objection on these grounds to such research on the inner cell mass of a blastocyst. The question is: Can we be sure? This is not a question of principle; it is a question of prudence. It is almost a question of psychological probability. No one yet knows the answer.


    Objection IV: Manufacture
    Note that while, up to now, I have been considering arguments against research cloning, they are all equally applicable to embryonic research done on a normal--i.e., noncloned--embryo. If the question is tearing up the blastocyst, there is no intrinsic moral difference between a two-parented embryo derived from a sperm and an egg and a single-parented embryo derived from a cloned cell. Thus the various arguments against this research--the intrinsic worth of the embryo, the prudential consideration that we might create monsters, or the prudential consideration that we might become monsters in exploiting post-embryonic forms of human life (fetuses or even children)--are identical to the arguments for and against stem-cell research.

    These arguments are serious--serious enough to banish the insouciance of the scientists who consider anyone questioning their work to be a Luddite--yet, in my view, insufficient to justify a legal ban on stem-cell research (as with stem cells from discarded embryos in fertility clinics). I happen not to believe that either personhood or ensoulment occurs at conception. I think we need to be apprehensive about what evil might arise from the power of stem-cell research, but that apprehension alone, while justifying vigilance and regulation, does not justify a ban on the practice. And I believe that given the good that might flow from stem-cell research, we should first test the power of law and custom to enforce the seven-day blastocyst line for embryonic exploitation before assuming that such a line could never hold.

    This is why I support stem-cell research (using leftover embryos from fertility clinics) and might support research cloning were it not for one other aspect that is unique to it. In research cloning, the embryo is created with the explicit intention of its eventual destruction. That is a given because not to destroy the embryo would be to produce a cloned child. If you are not permitted to grow the embryo into a child, you are obliged at some point to destroy it.

    Deliberately creating embryos for eventual and certain destruction means the launching of an entire industry of embryo manufacture. It means the routinization, the commercialization, the commodification of the human embryo. The bill that would legalize research cloning essentially sanctions, licenses, and protects the establishment of a most ghoulish enterprise: the creation of nascent human life for the sole purpose of its exploitation and destruction.

    How is this morally different from simply using discarded embryos from in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics? Some have suggested that it is not, that to oppose research cloning is to oppose IVF and any stem-cell research that comes out of IVF. The claim is made that because in IVF there is a high probability of destruction of the embryo, it is morally equivalent to research cloning. But this is plainly not so. In research cloning there is not a high probability of destruction; there is 100 percent probability. Because every cloned embryo must be destroyed, it is nothing more than a means to someone else's end.

    In IVF, the probability of destruction may be high, but it need not necessarily be. You could have a clinic that produces only a small number of embryos, and we know of many cases of multiple births resulting from multiple embryo implantation. In principle, one could have IVF using only a single embryo and thus involving no deliberate embryo destruction at all. In principle, that is impossible in research cloning.

    Furthermore, a cloned embryo is created to be destroyed and used by others. An IVF embryo is created to develop into a child. One cannot disregard intent in determining morality. Embryos are created in IVF to serve reproduction. Embryos are created in research cloning to serve, well, research. If certain IVF embryos were designated as "helper embryos" that would simply aid an anointed embryo in turning into a child, then we would have an analogy to cloning. But, in fact, we don't know which embryo is anointed in IVF. They are all created to have a chance of survival. And they are all equally considered an end.

    Critics counter that this ends-and-means argument is really obfuscation, that both procedures make an instrument of the embryo. In cloning, the creation and destruction of the embryo is a means to understanding or curing disease. In IVF, the creation of the embryo is a means of satisfying a couple's need for a child. They are both just means to ends.

    But it makes no sense to call an embryo a means to the creation of a child. The creation of a child is the destiny of an embryo. To speak of an embryo as a means to creating a child empties the word "means" of content. The embryo in IVF is a stage in the development of a child; it is no more a means than a teenager is a means to the adult he or she later becomes. In contrast, an embryo in research cloning is pure means. Laboratory pure.

    And that is where we must draw the line. During the great debate on stem-cell research, a rather broad consensus was reached (among those not committed to "intrinsic worth" rendering all embryos inviolable) that stem-cell research could be morally justified because the embryos destroyed for their possibly curative stem cells were derived from fertility clinics and thus were going to be discarded anyway. It was understood that human embryos should not be created solely for the purpose of being dismembered and then destroyed for the benefit of others. Indeed, when Senator Bill Frist made his impassioned presentation on the floor of the Senate supporting stem-cell research, he included among his conditions a total ban on creating human embryos just to be stem-cell farms.

    Where cloning for research takes us decisively beyond stem-cell research is in sanctioning the manufacture of the human embryo. You can try to regulate embryonic research to prohibit the creation of Brave New World monsters; you can build fences on the slippery slope, regulating how many days you may grow an embryo for research; but once you countenance the very creation of human embryos for no other purpose than for their parts, you have crossed a moral frontier.

    Research cloning is the ultimate in conferring thingness up on the human embryo. It is the ultimate in desensitization. And as such, it threatens whatever other fences and safeguards we might erect around embryonic research. The problem, one could almost say, is not what cloning does to the embryo, but what it does to us. Except that, once cloning has changed us, it will inevitably enable further assaults on human dignity. Creating a human embryo just so it can be used and then destroyed undermines the very foundation of the moral prudence that informs the entire enterprise of genetic research: the idea that, while a human embryo may not be a person, it is not nothing. Because if it is nothing, then everything is permitted. And if everything is permitted, then there are no fences, no safeguards, no bottom.

    Contributing Editor Charles Krauthammer, a syndicated columnist and a medical doctor, has been writing about medical ethics for tnr since 1979. Although he is a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, the views expressed here are his alone and may not represent the views of the Council.

    Charles Krauthammer is a contributing editor at TNR.
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  2. #2

    A Weak Argument Against Cloning

    This is a strange editorial by one anti-cloner against another anti-cloner. That National Review is conservative magazine that strongly opposes cloning.

    April 24, 2002 12:10 p.m.
    A Weak Argument Against Cloning
    Ramesh Ponnuru.

    'm glad that Charles Krauthammer is against cloning and then destroying human embryos; and if his New Republic cover story helps to move waverers over to our side of the issue, I'll be glad for that too. But I don't think his argument makes sense, because he denies the premise - that human embryos are "persons" with "intrinsic worth" - that would make sense of it. (He denies that premise on the basis of no serious argument; indeed, on the basis of the false claim that no argument is possible in the matter.) His language doesn't even make sense: He starts the piece by saying, "You were once a single cell." On his account of the matter, that can't be true: "I" only came to be as a person after the single-cell stage of biological development, and thus I never was a single cell.

    None of Krauthammer's arguments against cloning and destroying embryos work on his assumptions. Take his "slippery slope" argument, that allowing the destruction of human blastocysts for research will eventually lead to the destruction of human fetuses for research. If fetuses aren't persons with intrinsic worth, there's no reason to be worried about that scenario. If, on the other hand, they do have attributes that confer on them personhood and worth - as Krauthammer seems to think - then there's a real moral distinction between them and blastocysts (again, on Krauthammer's account). So why can't we arrest our slide at the point of distinction?

    In fact, Krauthammer is willing to take his chances that the slide will be stopped. For him, the decisive argument against cloning is that it involves the manufacture of human life for the sole purpose of its destruction. We will regard that life as though it were a mere thing. It would certainly be bad for us to start regarding human beings as mere things rather than persons. But what's so terrible about regarding non-persons, which is what embryos are according to Krauthammer, as mere things?

    Krauthammer believes that there is a middle ground between treating something as a person and treating it as a mere thing. Because an embryo is not a person, it can be destroyed if our reasons are good enough. Because it is not a mere thing, it cannot be created for the sole purpose of using it in a way that destroys it. If it's already been created for some other purpose, though, as the leftover embryos in IVF clinics have been, it can be destroyed. If there's a point of principle that underlies this set of positions, I can't see it.

    It shouldn't be hard for proponents of cloning to pick apart Krauthammer's case. All the more reason for those of us who are convinced that the case against cloning and destroying embryos is defensible, indeed indefeasible, should make it clear that his case is not ours - and to hope that Krauthammer, having reached the correct conclusion and possessing some of the right premises (you were once a single cell), finds the clearest path between them.

  3. #3
    Here is the web site of The Americans to Ban Cloning (ABC) coalition "a group of concerned Americans and U.S. based organizations that promote a global, comprehensive ban on human cloning." It includes all the press release statements of Jim Kelly and the other people who were at President Bush's press conference against cloning.

    Specifically, these are the statements of
    Joni Eareckson Tada, Director Emeritus, Christian Council on Persons with Disabilities: Research Cloning from a Disability Perspective

    Jim Kelly

    Jean D. Peduzzi-Nelson, Ph.D. Research Associate Professor, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Neuroscientist Working on Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury

    Thomas P. Dooley, Ph.D. CEO, IntegriDerm and Altruis Co-Founder and Former President, BIO of Alabama

    Anton-Lewis Usala, M.D., Clinical Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology
    Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University

    Yuri Mantilla, LLM, MA Counsel for Hispanic Affairs and Human Rights Family Research Council

  4. #4

    April 23, 2002, 8:45 a.m.
    Spinning Stem Cells
    A damning reporting pattern.

    By Wesley J. Smith

    he pattern in the media reportage about stem cells is growing very wearisome. When a research advance occurs with embryonic stem cells, the media usually give the story the brass-band treatment. However, when researchers announce even greater success using adult stem cells, the media reportage is generally about as intense and excited as a stifled yawn.

    As a consequence, many people in this country continue to believe that embryonic stem cells offer the greatest promise for developing new medical treatments using the body's cells - known as regenerative medicine - while in actuality, adult and alternative sources of stem cells have demonstrated much brighter prospects. This misperception has societal consequences, distorting the political debate over human cloning and embryonic-stem-cell research (ESCR) and perhaps even affecting levels of public and private research funding of embryonic and adult stem-cell therapies.

    This media pattern was again in evidence in the reporting of two very important research breakthroughs announced within the last two weeks. Unless you made a point of looking for these stories - as I do in my work - you might have missed them. Patients with Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis received significant medical benefit using experimental adult-stem-cell regenerative medical protocols. These are benefits that supporters of embryonic-stem-cell treatments have yet to produce widely in animal experiments. Yet adult stem cells are now beginning to ameliorate suffering in human beings.

    Celebrity Parkinson's disease victims such as Michael J. Fox and Michael Kinsley regularly tout ESCR as the best hope for a cure of their disease. Indeed, the Washington Post recently published a Kinsley rant on the subject in which the editor and former Crossfire co-host denounced opponents of human cloning as interfering with his hope for a cure. Yet as loudly as Fox and Kinsley promote ESCR in the media or before legislative committees, both have remained strangely silent about the most remarkable Parkinson's stem-cell experiment yet attempted: one in which researchers treated Parkinson's with the patient's own adult stem cells.

    Here's the story, in case you missed it: A man in his mid-50s had been diagnosed with Parkinson's at age 49. The disease grew progressively, leading to tremors and rigidity in the patient's right arm. Traditional drug therapy did not help.

    Stem cells were harvested from the patient's brain using a routine brain biopsy procedure. They were cultured and expanded to several million cells. About 20 percent of these matured into dopamine-secreting neurons. In March 1999, the cells were injected into the patient's brain.

    Three months after the procedure, the man's motor skills had improved by 37 percent and there was an increase in dopamine production of 55.6 percent. One year after the procedure, the patient's overall Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale had improved by 83 percent - this at a time when he was not taking any other Parkinson's medication!

    That is an astonishing, remarkable success, one that you would have thought would set off blazing headlines and lead stories on the nightly news. Had the treatment been achieved with embryonic stem cells, undoubtedly the newspapers would have screamed loudly enough to be heard. Unfortunately, reportage about the Parkinson's success story was strangely muted. True, the Washington Post ran an inside-the-paper story and there were some wire service reports. But the all-important New York Times - the one news outlet that drives television and cable news - did not report on it at all. Nor did a search of the Los Angeles Times website yield any stories about the experiment.

    Human multiple-sclerosis patients have now also benefited from adult-stem-cell regenerative medicine. A study conducted by the Washington Medical Center in Seattle involved 26 rapidly deteriorating MS patients. First, physicians stimulated stem cells from the patients' bone marrow to enter the bloodstream. They then harvested the stem cells and gave the patients strong chemotherapy to destroy their immune systems. (MS is an autoimmune disorder in which the patient's body attacks the protective sheaths that surround bundles of nerves.) Finally, the researchers reintroduced the stem cells into the patients, hoping they would rebuild healthy immune systems and ameliorate the MS symptoms.

    It worked. Of the 26 patients, 20 stabilized and six improved. Three patients experienced severe infections and one died.

    That is a very positive advance offering great hope. But rather than making headlines, the test got less attention than successful animal studies using embryonic cells. The Los Angeles Times ran a brief bylined description, while the New York Times and Washington Post only published wire reports. Once again, the media's almost grudging coverage prevented society at large from becoming acutely aware of how exciting adult-cell regenerative medicine is fast becoming.

    Meanwhile in Canada, younger MS patients whose diseases were not as far advanced as those in the Washington study have shown even greater benefit from the same procedure. Six months after the first patient was treated, she was found to have no evidence of the disease on MRI scans. Three other patients have also received successful adult-stem-cell grafts with no current evidence of active disease.

    It's still too early to tell whether the Canadian patients have achieved permanent remission or a cure, but there can be no question that the research is significant. Yet the story was only publicized in Canada's Globe and Mail and in reports on Canadian television. American outlets did not mention the experiments at all.

    These Parkinson's and MS studies offer phenomenal evidence of the tremendous potential adult cell regenerative medicine offers. At the same time, the unspectacular coverage these breakthroughs received highlights the odd lack of interest in adult stem-cell research exhibited by most mainstream media outlets. Nor are these stories the only adult-stem-cell successes to have gotten the media cold shoulder.

    It's worth recapping just a few of the other advances made in adult-cell therapies and research in the last two years, all of which were significantly underplayed in the media:

    Israeli doctors inserted a paraplegic patient's own white blood cells into her severed spinal cord, after which she regained bladder control and the ability to wiggle her toes and move her legs. (I only saw reporting on this case in the Globe and Mail, June 15, 2001.)
    Immune systems destroyed by cancer were restored in children using stem cells from umbilical-cord blood. (There was a good story in the April 16, 2001 Time, but other than that I saw no reporting.)
    At Harvard University, mice with Type I diabetes were completely cured of their disease. The experiment was so successful that human trials are now planned. (This was reported in the July 19, 2001, Harvard University Gazette, but I saw no coverage at all in the mainstream press.)
    Diabetic mice treated with adult stem cells achieved full insulin production and all lived. This is in contrast to an experiment in which embryonic stem cells injected into diabetic mice achieved a 3 percent insulin production rate and all the mice died. (According to the May 2001 STATS, published by the Statistical Assessment Service, the embryo experiment made big news while the media ignored the adult cell experiment.)
    How many humans have been treated by embryonic stem cells? Zero. Indeed, before human trials can even be safely undertaken researchers will have to overcome two serious difficulties that stand between patients and embryonic-cell regenerative medicine: 1) ES cells cause tumors, and 2) ES cells may be rejected by the immune system. Surmounting these difficulties - if they can be surmounted at all - will take a very long time and much expense. There is no risk of rejection with adult cells, by contrast, because they come from the patients' own bodies. Nor, at least so far, does adult-stem-cell therapy appear to cause tumors. This puts adult therapies years ahead of the game.

    The media continue to imply that embryos hold the key to the future. But increasingly, it looks as if our own body cells offer the quickest and best hope for regenerative medicine. The time has come for the public to insist that the media stop acting as if adult stem cells are the "wrong" kind of stem cells, and report to the American people fully and fairly the remarkable advances continually being made in adult regenerative medicine.

    - Mr. Smith is the author of Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America. His next book will be A Consumer's Guide to Brave New World, a discussion of the business, science, and morality of human cloning.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    Wisconsin USA
    The problem with Charles Krauthammer is that he believes that people are intrinsically evil.

  6. #6
    Senior Member bill j.'s Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    Stratford, SD
    It is very interesting that Jim Kelly's views are identical to those of Dr. Jean D. Peduzzi. I hope Jim Kelly would never again tell this forum that he thinks for himself. I guess we now know one of the researchers he's been talking to.

  7. #7

    Charles Krauthammer ???

    I guess he needs to do everything he can to discourage a cure for SCI, if only to make the article he wrote a couple years ago which stated a cure for SCI would never happen. Ya think?

  8. #8
    Senior Member Jeff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Argao, Cebu, Philippines

    Jean Peduzzi

    Was using this argument back in August.

    Dr. Jean Peduzzi, a neuroscientist at UAB also doing research using adult stem cells, sees great potential in the work she's doing.
    In pre-clinical trials, Dr. Peduzzi is exploring how to use a person's own stem cells to treat neurological problems such as spinal cord and head injuries.
    She said using one's own stem cells is better than using embryonic cells because there's no fear of rejection, disease transmission or uncontrolled growth of the embryonic cells.
    Dr. Peduzzi is worried that more money for embryonic stem cell research will mean less for adult stem cell studies.
    "In terms of the patients sitting out there right now, I just feel adult stem cells would be so much better for them," Dr. Peduzzi said.
    Also notice Jim Kelly's interest in that thread back in August.

    ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~

  9. #9
    Senior Member bill j.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Stratford, SD
    I am truly amazed that Jim Kelly and Dr. Jean Peduzzi would both use the argument that therapeutic cloning would draw money away from what they believe to be viable forms of research. This argument really makes no sense because the NIH will not fund therapeutic cloning. The cells derived from therapeutic cloning cannot even be studied with NIH funding as Bush has limited funding to only existing cell lines as of Aug. 9. So how will money be drawn away from other avenues of research?

    Do Jim Kelly and Peduzzi really believe that Proneuron will abandon their macrophage therapy, Schwab will abandon IN-1, that Strittmatter will abandon his research on receptors, Sam David will abandon his vaccine research, that research on neotrophins, adult stem cells, porcine stem cells, etc. will all be stopped to do therapeutic cloning research? Do they really believe all work on OEGs will suddenly be switched to cloning? How absurd can Peduzzi and Kelly get? What do they take scientists for, a bunch of fools who follow the latest fad? Reminds me of the time Kelly attacked Dr. Young and wanted him for drop what he was doing to go into research on cm-101 on the basis of one rat study.

    Like I have said before, banning research because one thinks a blastocyste is a human being (not even thinks Charles Krauthammer thinks this), is one thing, but banning a research avenue and throwing scientists in prison because one thinks other avenues are more promising is about as absurd as it gets. Yet, this is apparently what Peduzzi and Jim Kelly believes is best for the future of mankind.. They want to imprison scientists for economic reasons (wasting money on wrong avenues of research), not ethical ones.

    But what bothers me most is they want to take away and demolish the free enterprise system. They want to take away the right of a private individual or a company from investing in an avenue of research because Kelly and Peduzzi believe it is a waste of money and the money should be spent elsewhere. What right do Peduzzi and Kelly and the government have to tell private individuals where to invest their private funds if there are no ethical objections? What kind of audacity do these people have and where did they get it?

    This smacks of socialism and socialism has not proven to be an effective form of government - especially if people like James Kelly would ever happen to get control. Obviously, Kelly and Peduzzi have spent a lot of time on the phone together; their arguments are identical. Bill

    [This message was edited by Bill J. on Apr 30, 2002 at 03:38 PM.]

    [This message was edited by Bill J. on Apr 30, 2002 at 05:58 PM.]

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Boca Raton, Florida, USA

    I do think that you have the right to express your opinion about what Jim says. But I don't think you have the right to make cracks about other people on the forum...where they get their opinions, and who they spend time of the phone with. That kind of thing really creates rifts in our community and it's getting us nowhere.

    Eric Texley

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