It was revealed on October 11th, 2010 that a patient in the U.S. became the first person in the world to receive treatment involving human embryonic stem cells in a FDA approved study. Embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is fraught with controversy because it involves the destruction of embryos resulting in the devastating loss of human life. ESCR has failed to be the “medical elixir” promised, but now that it has officially entered the human testing phase, Pro-Lifers must renew and refocus our efforts to fight this unethical treatment.
Little has been officially released about the patient or study. According to the Washington Post, “A patient who was partially paralyzed by a spinal cord injury had millions of embryonic stem cells injected into the site of the damage.” Only when truly reflecting on this quote and realizing that countless unborn lives were lost in the name of this one treatment does it become clear that ESCR is horrendously unethical.
Geron Corporation of Menlo Park, California, which is sponsoring the study, confirmed via a press release that the patient is at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, and that there are six other sites that are going to participate in the study. Geron also confirmed that the main objective of the study is to test the safety of the therapy, but that there will also be specific tests completed to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment.
Since its inception over a decade ago, ESCR has been promised to produce treatments or even cures to diseases such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, and spinal cord injuries. Until now there has been no treatment that uses human embryonic cells, as well as several adverse effects and failed trials along the way. The most serious side effect is that the embryonic stem cells may mutate into tumor cells and cause various cancers. Despite all of these warning signs, the FDA has decided to authorize this new patient study.
It is interesting to note that as this study begins, federal funding of ESCR is in jeopardy. In August, a federal judge ruled that ESCR violated a federal law that prohibits taxpayer money for research that destroys human embryos. The Justice department has already appealed this decision and federal funding may resume while the long legal battle plays out in the courts.
This new phase of human embryonic stem cell research is a direct assault on human life. Not only are countless unborn lives going to be lost, patients that receive these untested and experimental procedures are themselves going to be in jeopardy. It is up to the Pro-Life community to share the truth behind ESCR, and draw attention to viable, moral alternatives such as adult stem cells. Adult stem cell treatments have shown positive outcomes in both heart tissue regeneration and spinal cord injuries during clinical trials, and most importantly they do not result in the loss of unborn life.