Medical Breakthroughs Follow Ethical Choices
November 14, 2019
by David Prentice, PhD
Medical breakthroughs are routinely touted in the media, whether they are actual breakthroughs or promising, potential information. Press outlets often make no distinction between real, evidence-based progress that can impact patients versus wished-for projections that can influence funding of projects. Rarely are the ethical choices noted regarding use, or development, of the research.
A recent Daily Mail news article about stem cell treatments is a case in point. In discussing advances in stem cell treatments for patients, the article starts with a decades-old mantra: “Embryonic stem cells can become any cell while adult cells have limited use,” implying here and in other places that embryonic stem cells are the great breakthrough and only real promise for patients. The article briefly mentions that embryonic stem cells are “sourced from human embryos” and mentions previous hype, but it fails to disclose that sourcing those embryonic stem cells requires the destruction of that human life, and that all of the hype was around false claims about embryonic stem cells. The bulk of the article then describes the remarkable results for five patients suffering from different conditions, all successfully treated…with adult stem cells.
The ethical choice turns out to be the lifesaving choice for patients. Life-destroying embryonic stem cell research has provided only false hopes for over two decades. Indeed, in 2007, Sen. Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania) declared that embryonic stem cells had “the potential to conquer all known maladies” and even today embryonic stem cells are still described as “important life-saving research.” This fiscal year, NIH will spend almost 300 million taxpayer dollars on human embryonic stem cell research, but embryonic stem cells have not saved a single life.
Stem cell pioneers who made the ethical choice, to help patients with adult stem cells, have made the real medical breakthroughs and saved at least two million lives thus far. These doctors are at the vanguard of a revolution in medicine, developing and validating treatments that put the patient first. This is not false hope or false promises, but documented evidence for real benefit to real people. These stem cell pioneers have provided hope and help to patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and a disabling MS-like disease, not just stopping but reversing the course of the diseases.
Stem cell pioneers have documented that using adult stem cells can alleviate chronic stroke symptoms. Recent published data adds to the growing literature, showing that a patient’s own bone marrow cells can aid in stroke recovery. Other pioneer doctors have successfully treated sickle cell anemia with an adult stem cell transplant, giving patients new opportunities for their lives. Pioneers have also led the way in using adult stem cells to help patients suffering from Type 1 diabetes and spinal cord injury. These are only a few examples of the opportunities for medical good by making the good choice on stem cells.
Adult stem cells are the gold standard for patient treatments. The ethical choice is leading to remarkable medical breakthroughs, providing real hope and therapeutic benefit for patients.