Adult Stem Cell Therapy Blog

A Hyped “Hero” Falls

Friday, January 13, 2006 - Stem Cell Guru

Source: National Review Online
by Kathryn Jean Lopez
January 12, 2006, 8:20 a.m.

A Hyped “Hero” Falls

And we get a second chance to preserve the dignity of human life.

When it comes to cloning, all anyone can talk about lately — and understandably so — is recently disgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk. One of Time's most influential people of 2004 could prove to be one of the most influential people of 2006, too — but in ways he never intended.

Hwang, whose cloning claims have been unraveling in recent weeks, has been exposed as a liar. At first, he delusionally thought he could save himself from public disgrace, trying to talk his way out of revelations about unethical egg-procurement practices. But soon we learned that he faked research, too — even though he tried to claim innocence and cry sabotage. And before 2005's end we learned that in his most celebrated "success," Mr. Stem Cell had never, in fact, created any embryonic stem cells from cloned embryos.

This is actually good news. Cloning — even under frequently used euphemisms: somatic-cell nuclear transfer, therapeutic cloning, and simply "stem-cell research" — would be a giant leap for mankind, and not a good one. To create a life in order to destroy it, as so-called therapeutic cloning would do, is a brave new world for us. A world that, although some states even here have already invested money in pursuing, we have not quite arrived at. Phew.

For the medical community, public policymakers, and investors this is a perfect moment for a collective deep breath, considering these Hwang revelations. (Investors are sometimes you and me in states where such research is publicly funded, including California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey). It's a perfect moment for everyone to start to really pay attention. And to consider that perhaps the road currently less traveled, less reported on, and less invested in may be the one to go down with a new enthusiasm.

The aforementioned road involves alternatives to embryonic-stem-cell research and cloning, namely adult- and umbilical-cord-stem-cell research. Hawaiian singer Don Ho, who was suffering from a weakened heart muscle, says that he could barely walk, never mind sing. Ho underwent an experimental stem-cell surgery in Thailand in early December. "I'm feeling terrific, 100 percent better," Ho told the Associated Press in a pre-Christmas interview.

Ho's help involves multiplying stem cells taken from the patient's blood and injecting them in the heart. The idea is to strengthen the heart muscles. The procedure, which was developed by a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, is not currently approved for use in the United States.

Ho's story is anecdotal, but it's but one of many apparent and real successes of late to come from adult- and umbilical-cord-stem-cell research — the kind that is free of the heavy and culture-redefining ethical baggage that comes with embryonic-stem-cell research and cloning.


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