Governor Rick Perry’s plan to create an independent adult stem cell therapy industry in Texas is meeting with resistance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Texas Medical Board, both of which are taking steps to prohibit doctors from using adult stem cell therapies until they are granted approval from an independent review committee.
Adult stem cell treatments are the Pro-Life alternative to embryonic stem cell research. They can be safely harvested from mature tissues, while embryonic stem cells must be obtained from immature embryonic tissues, leading to the destruction of the embryo. While embryonic stem cell research has yet to yield any successful therapies, adult stem cells have proven effective in treatment for back injuries and for some heart and cancer patients.
Perry realized the potential of adult stem cell treatments after experiencing their effects firsthand. Following a back surgery in July, Perry received an injection of his own stem cells into his spinal cord to help with tissue healing and regeneration. The procedure was successful, and now Perry aims to make Texas the nation’s top provider in this therapy that many see as the future of medicine.
The Food and Drug Administration is working to ensure that adult stem cell therapies are subject to federal regulation because they view them as treatments to disease, and argue that these therapies should fall under their purview much like prescription medications. Although the FDA has not approved adult stem cells for use, several clinics are beginning to offer these treatments.
Perry and other adult stem cell enthusiasts argue that this treatment does not require federal regulation due to the fact that no foreign genetic material is injected into patients. They argue that these treatments are only subject to state and medical guidelines.
Perry hopes to counter the FDA’s attempt to regulate these therapies by creating a commercial adult stem cell industry in Texas. Perry worked with Representative Rick Hardcastle (R-Vernon) to pass adult stem cell legislation during the special session that immediately followed the 82nd State Legislative Session. This amendment allows private companies to store stem cells taken from patients until they are needed for future treatments. The last hurdle to Perry’s attempts comes from the Texas Medical Board.
The Texas Medical Board argues that the safety and effectiveness of adult stem cell therapies has not been established. They argue that much more research and many more clinical trials are needed before patients receive these treatments. The Board will consider a new policy on November 4th that would prohibit doctors from providing adult stem cell treatments without approval from an independent review committee.
Perry and Hardcastle have both written the Board urging them not to pass this measure. According to Perry, “With the right policies in place, we can lead the nation in advancing adult stem cell research that will treat diseases, cure cancers, and, ultimately, save lives.” Hardcastle petitioned the board to not create, “. . .onerous and unnecessary regulations to impede the practice and research of physicians.”
Texas Right to Life calls on all Pro-Lifers to continue to educate the public about adult stem cells as the successful and ethical alternative to embryonic stem cell research. While it is important to proceed with cautious medical judgment, Pro-Lifers must make certain that pro-choice politics do not cause a resistance to new and successful medical therapies or a potential growth industry for Texas.