Is there an (informed and honest) Doctor in the House?
During the 2004 campaign, John Edwards spoke about embryonic stem cell research and the difference it will eventually make in people’s lives. Kerry and Edwards, you’ll remember, are in favor of federal funding for research involving new embryonic stem cell lines and George Bush and the Republicans against.
John Edwards was quoted by several news organizations as saying on October 12th: "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."
Among other publications, the New York Post expressed it's displeasure: “Edwards made his startling boast of miraculous cures to come in Newton, Iowa, after the death on Sunday of "Superman" Reeve, who was paralyzed in a 1995 horse-jumping accident.”
The Post then continued: “But [Senator Bill] Frist, a renowned heart surgeon, said: 'They're trying to shamefully use the death of people like Christopher Reeve to promote falsehood and dishonesty. To me it's crass and opportunistic. It's giving false hope to people.'"
"Frist (R-Tenn.), a key Bush ally, said there are 120 to 140 stem-cell therapies now in use for paralyzed people. All involve adult-type cells from bone marrow and none involves stem cells."
Meanwhile, CNN also reported that "Frist said research related to spinal cord injuries does not involve embryonic stem cells but rather adult stem cells, 'where the president has absolutely no restrictions, no limitations and there are about 140 treatments.'"
Given this blistering critique by the "renowned" doctor/Senator Frist, it's quite a surprise to hear the announcement this week by the University of California Irvine Reeve-Irvine Research Center.
“For the first time, researchers have used human embryonic stem cells to create new insulating tissue for nerve fibers in a live animal model – a finding that has potentially important implications for treatment of spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.”
Based on an interview with the lead researcher for the study, Newsweek wrote that "[a]t the University of California Reeve-Irvine Research Center, Hans Keirstead is helping rats with spinal-cord injuries. Keirstead will report at a scientific conference next week that he coaxed human embryonic stem cells into highly purified brain cells called oligodendrocytes, then injected them into rodents with bruised spines. After nine weeks the rats regained their ability to walk and run. The results are both 'thrilling and humbling,' says Keirstead. 'The humbling part is that the cells are so incredibly powerful.'"