Stem-cell doublespeak

Jonathan Garthwaite
Posted: Apr 11, 2007 3:07 PM

In an article in The Times of London, it is reported:

Diabetics using stem-cell therapy have been able to stop taking insulin injections for the first time, after their bodies started to produce the hormone naturally again.

In a breakthrough trial, 15 young patients with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes were given drugs to suppress their immune systems followed by transfusions of stem cells drawn from their own blood.

Exciting news for anyone with children or relatives with Diabetes, but then the reporter -- in an effort to spice up his article with a little controversy -- injects politics into the mix.

The findings were released to reporters yesterday as the future of US stem-cell research was being debated in Washington.

Stem cells are immature, unprogrammed cells that have the ability to grow into different kinds of tissue and can be sourced from people of all ages.

Previous studies have suggested that stem-cell therapies offer huge potential to treat a variety of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and motor neuron disease. A study by British scientists in November also reported that stem-cell injections could repair organ damage in heart attack victims.

But research using the most versatile kind of stem cells — those acquired from human embryos — is currently opposed by powerful critics, including President Bush.

Except this new research has absoultely nothing to do with the stem-cell debate -- certainly not the embryonic stem cell debate.

Discussing the stem cell issue with people who see hope in stem cell research is enough of a challenging endeavor already.  Now every time a question about the stem cell issue comes from a parent of a child with diabetes,  I'll have one more bit of misinformation to correct.