Archive for the Medical research Category

Stem cell research III

Posted in Medical research with tags , , , , on 9 June 2008 by Maggie

Originally written November 22, 2007 in the midst of a heated debate in the Nebraska legislature regarding stem cell research conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  This is the third and final piece in the series.

After writing the first two posts yesterday and seeing the responses that ensued, I realised I rather left the conundrum without some sort of wind-up of my own thought process.

The three sorts of stem cell research and their subsequent use as possible treatment, can have an impact on many diseases:

Autoimmune Diseases
Cerebral Palsy
Diabetes Type 2
Heart Disease
Parkinson’s Disease
PANDAS (an autoimmune autistic and obsessive compulsive disorder not to be confused with Asperger’s and various other forms on the autistic spectrum)

Think about autoimmune diseases. The list is long:

Multiple Sclerosis
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Myasthenia Gravis
Anaemia (several forms)
Sytemic lupus
Type 1 diabetes (juvenile)
Guillain-Barré Syndrome
Ord’s thyroiditis
…and at least half a dozen I couldn’t even explain.

Look at that list. I mean, really look at it. It’s not just one or two things that might have an impact on a few people, but heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, stroke, and as I said before, they’re already using adult stem cells in treatment for certain types of cancer at the university where I work.

How do these things affect you? How do they affect your family?

With the rise in type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke to reported epidemic levels, do you really think doing away with any options in stem cell research and treatment is beneficial? I don’t care what type it is. The potential gains for treatment is high. Adult stem cell has already been proven to help. You will not get me to believe that efforts to research, refine, and use other forms of stem cell treatment would not also be good.

As far as I am concerned, research of all kinds ia necessary for the treatment of humans and their conditions as individuals. This means more than one form of stem cell treatment is just as viable as more than one form of treating any other illness. If people were all the same (godforbid), then one treatment would be all that was necesary.

But we’re not all the same.

Embryonic stem cell research is ethical. All those out there who cannot think reasonably enough to understand that it is ethical, are ignorant. No, I am not coming down on a particular relgion. I am coming down on a particular close-minded refusal to use logic, rather than illogical emotion. To say that embryos in a petrie dish should be left to starve because it’s better than being used for research is illogical. It’s like saying people shouldn’t donate their organs for transplant, or their bodies for research, because it’s better for bodies to be placed in the ground intact.


People are ignorant. They just are.

Half the world would be dead right now if it weren’t for the research done by Michael Servetus, Ignaz Semmelweis, Joseph Lister, Alexander Fleming, Marie Curie and Jonas Salk.

Maybe the world would have been a better place if they hadn’t done the research, eh? Where would you be without “modern” medicine and research?

I’ve said enough now. You get the picture. Research, such as that in the varous forms of stem cell therapies and treatments, is a good thing. When people realise this and start speaking out louder than the ignorant, the debate will be over.

Until then, just remember…

The earth is flat.


Stem cell research II

Posted in Medical research with tags , , , , on 9 June 2008 by Maggie

**Originally written November 21, 2007 in the midst of a heated debate in the Nebraska Legislature regarding stem cell research conducted in the state by the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  This is the second of three pieces on the subject.

Please read previous post, and then read and listen here:

Stem-Cell Supporters, Critics Weigh In
Each stored embryo is a stem cell debate
Souls on Ice
Key Moments in the Stem-Cell Debate

The media hype surrounding this is producing the statement that this will essentially eliminate the debate over embryonic stem cell research.

I disagree.

What I have seen in my own research on the subject, and the decades of accumulated information I’ve read and digested, is that there isn’t one be-all, end-all stem cell discovery that will rise above the rest. The fact is that all men, women, and children are individuals. They have individual needs. No one who goes to the doctor for anything is going to find that their treatment is the same as everyone else’s. Sometimes it’s a gamble – you try one thing, you try another. What works for one person just may not work for you. That being said, this leaves the door wide open for human embryonic stem cell research and treatments, if they prove viable.

Does this mean we kill babies to get the embryos? The entire idea that scientists will hunt you down for your eggs just to save someone else’s life is just too ludicrous to even address in any realm other than science fiction.

The embryos left over from fertility clinics, however, is another thing. What do they do with the series of embryos that have been tagged for a certain person or a certain situation, the in vitro fertilization is successful, and some remain? As you saw above, there is a bank for those for research, but not everyone chooses to give their remaining embryos for research. Some think this is a terrible thing to do, but what then happens to them? The other choice is that they are left to expire and tossed in the trash.

Tossed in the trash.

Certain factions, including certain comments made by the Catholic Archdiocese, seem to think this is a viable alternative to research. I actually heard someone say, “It’s better to let them die naturally.” Die naturally? What constitutes “dying naturally”? I did a little investigating. Effectively what this person is saying is don’t keep them frozen anymore, don’t tend to them. Just leave them on a shelf and let them, essentially, starve to death.

That sounds like “dying naturally”, doesn’t it?

This is a tremendous issue.

If I believe these embryos are all viable lives, the choice seems to be which method of demise do I approve?

The Catholic Archdiocese, President George W. Bush, and most pro-life factions, in words of their own choosing (not these I’ve expressed here), seem to prefer the “natural death” approach. Let them starve and then toss them in the trash. It’s better than subjecting them to perceived pain when being used in research.

The other side of this is using these embryos in research for the benefit of mankind nationally and internationally. So much good can come from this, the mind just cannot take it all in. I have a sister with Lupus. My uncle had Parkinson’s. I have had cancer four times. My mother died from cancer. My grandfather had Alzheimer’s.

How would such research affect you and your family?

The debate on stem cell research will continue for decades.


Stem cell research

Posted in Medical research with tags , , , , on 9 June 2008 by Maggie

**Originally written November 21, 2007, in the midst of a heated debate in the Nebraska legislature over stem cell research conducted in the state at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  The first of three pieces on this subject.

This has been on my mind for quite some time, and so I have to chat about it a little…okay, more than a little. This is a lengthy post. After you read this, there is a third point I will address in the next post.


1. The world is in a whirl these days with the anticipation of a new discovery that stem cells could be created from skin cells, thus essentially eliminating the big debate over embryonic stem cell research. So they say. I’ve had a little access to the hoopla prior to the big announcement, and so have been watching closely.

Read and listen here:

Scientists Produce Embryonic Stem Cells from Skin
Skin Cells Can Become Embryonic Stem Cells

Tomorrow, if you can, please read the Science article (you should be able to do this online at Science Magazine. If you cannot, please let me know, and I’ll try to get the article for you.)

2. It seems we can use primate embryos instead of human embryos in research, and that would thus essentially eliminate the big debate over human embryonic stem cell research. So they say.

Read and listen here:
Scientists Clone Monkey Embryo, Derive Stem Cells
Producing primate embryonic stem cells by somatic cell nuclear transfer


I’m not going to get on a particular bandwagon, because I see all sides in this (as I am wont to do), but I have a few things I want to bring up:

1. Note that in one of the news reports from NPR, a comment is made that one of the four genes used in this “cocktail” for skin cells is known as a cancer risk. This is true. It has been proven that some people are genetically predisposed to cancer. I am one of them. This then presents a Catch-22, not just for me, but for others like me. At the University of Nebraska Medical Center, stem cell treatments for cancer patients are being used. So far so good. I appreciate that stem cells can really help in the cancer battle, let alone any other battle that we have – Parkinson’s Disease and others. If stem cell treatments are changed to this particular sort of skin-cell version, I would be introducing the very gene that predisposes me to cancer. This could be true for so many. What this means is that, until they improve dramatically on the “cocktail” that will make this work, it not only cannot help me, it could kill me. Additionally, I cannot think of one reason in the world why anyone would want to introduce that genetic risk into their bodies, whether or not they are predisposed. We have more than a decade of research on this method to go. It’s in baby stages, at the very least. I don’t think we should stop, but I do think we should be realistic. This is not the magic answer. It just isn’t.

2. Primates. Hello, animal rights activists! I can see where this will go, can’t you? Let’s see how many animals we can “harvest” these embryos from, shall we? Another Catch-22. I am not now, nor have I ever been an animal rights activist. I don’t think they have a place in medical research, with the exception of possibly assisting in the monitoring of facilities so that they comply with the reasonabe accommodation of those animals that need to be used. In my world, we are not a lab looking for better cosmetics. We are a research university trying to save people’s lives. Are our labs and animal containment units compliant? Oh hell yes. The integrity of our university from the getgo is most important to us. We are a world-class institution, and our research philosophy is, as far as I am concerned, above reproach. Yet we have people who don’t know a goddamned thing about what we’re doing here, who haven’t seen the facilities, haven’t understood our processes, who think they can stand outwith the university premises and pass out sensational negative literature attached to animal rights organisations on the west coast and pretend what is downloaded from their sites is a testament to what we have going on here. It isn’t. I’ve been to the research facilities here. I know the character of these doctors. I know what they’re doing. I have done alot of independent research on this after having seen the facilities and thought about the issues at hand. Most people don’t even think about doing that or asking questions. Anything I’ve learned would be considered public information. Ask me. And in the meantime, I do believe no avenue for research should be closed – including this one.