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Monday, October 4, 2010

Physicians herald stem cell breakthrough, call for Obama to "restore science to its rightful place"

"All the formaldehyde in the world can't preserve the dead and decaying hypothesis that embryonic stem cell research is the Holy Grail of cures."
David Stevens, MD
That's how the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org) sizes up the battle over stem cell science. The organization heralded the recent news of scientists producing apparently safe, efficient and effective alternatives to human embryonic stem cells, saying that the breakthrough should help stop federal funding of obsolete, embryo-destroying research. The CMA was an original party to a lawsuit that on Aug. 23 won a temporary halting of all federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research.
"This is terrific news for patients and those who care for them, offering solid promise for ethical, efficient and timely stem cell-based therapies," declared CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens. "This breakthrough validates many other significant proofs of the therapeutic promise of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) and adult stem cells.
"Compared to the speculative, controversial and dangerous embryonic stem cell research that the administration insists on funding illegally, iPS cell and adult stem cell research is a cheaper, faster, safer, more efficient and quicker path to the cures we need.
"This study should put one of the final nails in the coffin of federally funded embryonic stem cell research. This breakthrough is further evidence that the government's illegal funding of embryo-destroying research is like investing in vinyl record technology in a digital age. With patients desperately waiting for cures and ethical alternatives showing such great promise, it is increasingly ludicrous to spend and speculate our tax dollars instead on unethical, illegal and cancer-producing embryonic stem cell research.
Dr. Stevens explained, "These new iPS cells are safer; there is no evidence of a risk of causing cancer by using viruses to insert genes into cells. The new cells are produced more efficiently, taking just 17 days to create. The new iPS cells are cheaper to develop, can easily tissue match the patient that the therapy are given too and are morally acceptable to all. The fact that these iPS cells strategy can then turn those cells into ones that could be used for transplants is a huge step forward as well.
How can anyone who studies this evidence objectively continue to insist that our government, in a time of financial crisis, should continue to shovel hundreds of millions of tax dollars down the black hole of speculative embryo-destroying research? Unfortunately, some prominent scientists and universities remain blinded by the prospect of cashing in on patents they hold on embryonic stem cell lines and the processes for using them.
We're not holding our breath for advocates of embryo-destroying research to suddenly admit they were wrong, but scientists of all people should understand that hypotheses are just that--hypothetical.
All the formaldehyde in the world can't preserve the dead and decaying hypothesis that embryonic stem cell research is the Holy Grail of cures. Embryonic stem cell research advocates need to put aside their misguided ideology and financial interests and let science pursue real cures for real patients.
"President Obama has said he will base funding decisions on evidence and 'restore science to its rightful place.'
Well, here is the evidence, Mr. President--so let's restore science to its rightful place, obey the law and focus our funding on ethical and effective stem cell research that offers the best hope for real patients.

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