Not enough money for both?
"...thought I needed to respond. There seems to be alot of confusion about
stem cell research and I think some of it has been intentional,(specifically
by the Kerry/Edwards campaign). I spoke at a Kerry/Edwards press conference
last month on stem cell research. I was invited to what I thought was going
to be a fair discussion of the President's ban and how it could affect us.
Just the opposite occurred.

First and foremost we need to be clear about what we're discussing, there
are TWO types of stem cells, embryotic (fetal), and adult stem cells. The
current ban is on federal money for fetal stem cell research on cell lines
other than those available at the time of the ban (~ 87 worldwide). Anyone
in this country can do research with fetal stem cells with their own money,
or if they want to use our federal money they are limited to these specific
lines. This is what the ban means and it is almost never presented clearly.

For those of us interested in potential cures we need to be aware of the
research. Fetal stem cells are VERY problematic, mainly noone has figured
out a way to rein them in. Chinese researchers found out the hard way when
they tried to treat a Parkinsonian patient with fetal stem cells a few years
ago. The patient got some improvement but soon developed a brain tumor and
was dead within two years. An autopsy showed that the stem cells had
morphed into bone and muscle tissue. Conversely, our group (SCS), started
human trials with adult stem cells four years ago, and although we were only
allowed to do one patient, that patient went from stage 3 to stage 1 after
only one treatment and has remained healthy for the last four years.

Both scientifically and ethically the obvious choice in where our limited
research dollars should go is adult stem cells. Adult stem cells come from
our own bodies so there is no problem of rejection that one would have with
fetal stem cells. Also it come down to greed and money. The end product of
fetal stem cells could be patented and the companies developing could charge
whatever the market bares. On the other hand, adult stem cells harvested
from our bodies are very cheap.

For anyone who reads the current research literature, and understands the
problems and limitations, the preference for research into adult stem cells
should be clear. People may ask why not do both? The short answer is that
even the government has only a limited amount of money for research. Money
spent on fetal stem cell research means less money on the more promising
adult stem cell research, which translates into an even longer wait for our
cures. I find it disgusting to see politicians try to use medical research
as a political tool against each other. If we allow Kerry/Edwards to
promote a technology, (which they also know is inferior), with our federal
money, than we will be waiting even longer for the cures we seek.

Chris Cellucci, Ph.D.
President, Philadelphia Chapter of the Spinal Cord Society
Associate Professor
Department of Physics
Ursinus College
Collegeville, PA 19426
(610) 409-3000 (ext. 2452)