Campaigning for ethical stem cell research

Human life begins at conception and must be protected from that point. The use of human embryos in experiments is always wrong. The Life Institute is campaigning to raise awareness of the amazing results being produced by ethical adult stem cell research - which has produced benefits for patients with 73 different medical conditions, and does not involve destroying human embryos.

As part of our campaign to protect early human life we've responded to the spin promoting embryonic stem cell research in many Irish newspapers and media outlets. Just one example is when the Sunday Business Post ran a lengthy feature supporting the pro-embryo research Irish Stem Cell Foundation, giving uncritical coverage to the pronouncements of its director, Dr Stephen Sullivan.


"Susan Mitchell's article "Dismissing the stem cell hype" (05/09/2010) unfortunately contained some hype of its own. The views of Dr Stephen Sullivan were presented as those of a neutral expert, when, in fact, Dr Sullivan is a long-time advocate for embryonic stem cell research, who, according to his own press release, came back to Ireland in 2008 for the express purpose of undertaking embryo-destroying research in this country.

Dr Sullivan seeks to understate the efficiacy of treatments involving adult stem cells, which are usually taken from the patient, and obtained without harming anyone. However, as Dr. David Prentice - an internationally-recognized expert on stem cell research and cloning who has written extensively on this topic -  points out, there are peer-reviewed studies with results showing benefits from adult stem cells for patients with 73 different conditions.

So the list of 73 successful applications of adult stem cell research are not taken from thin air. Instead, it is compiled from peer-reviewed articles, where observable and measurable benefit to patients have been documented. These clinical trials are a necessary step toward formal approval and what is expected of new, cutting-edge medical applications.

We have therefore, at this point, a scorecard of sorts for stem cell research therapies. 73 medical conditions have been clinically shown to improve when treated with adult-stem cell therapies. That number is zero for embryonic stem cell therapies.

Naturally, no-one wants to see vulnerable patients exploited by unscrupulous practitioners who promise miracles from any form of medical treatments. However, your report would have more complete had it revealed that the unfortunate Israeli boy who developed multiple tumour following treatment in Russia was the recipient of fetal stem cells. Embryonic stem cells almost always cause tumours in human patients: it is their greatest failing. Science's greatest failing is failing to recognise that human life cannot be abused and destroyed.

The ultimate test for any form of research is, of course, the number of registered approved clinical trials currently taking place worldwide. This information is now easily available on which currently records more than 90,000 trials in 174 countries.

That website reveals that as at September 5th 2010 (today) there were 2110 adult stem cell research transplant trials versus a paltry 4 embryonic stem cell transplant trials. Furthermore, none of the 4 trials involving stem cells from human embryos involved placing stem cells into patients. The scientific community seems to have already voted with their feet.

Finally, Sullivan is quoted as saying that around 300,000 Irish women undergo fertility treatments in Ireland every year. The correct figure, of course, is around 3,000 women."


Read the Sunday Business Post article here