Funding Research using Embryonic-Stem Cells is not Scientifically Justified
by Dr. Patrick H. Young

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Letter to the Editor of the Lancaster Eagle Gazette
Published June 15, 2004

On May 8th 2004, Nancy Reagan chose to join a host of Hollywood leftwing political activists, including Christopher Reeve, Michael J. Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, etc. through a public speech intended to admonish George W. Bush for his decision to limit federal funding of research using embryonic-stem cells.

To fully appreciate how misguided Nancy Reagan’s position is, one must first understand the difference between embryonic-stem cells (ESC) and adult-stem cells (ASC). ESC research involves the initial harvesting of stem cells resulting in the destruction of human embryos. Conversely, ASC research involves the initial harvesting of stem cells from bone marrow, umbilical cords, placentas and amniotic fluid.

The only possible rationale for applying pressure to increase funding for ESCs, is an unproven theory that ESCs could have higher potential to grow into any human tissue desired. However, Dr. Darwin Prockop (Director of the Gene Therapy Center, Tulane University) was recently quoted as saying, "There is no law of physics or such that I know of that says that [ASCs] are inherently more limited than embryonic stem cells."

Furthermore, the only area of science that ESC research has demonstrated any practicality is the ethically challenged field of human cloning. Conversely, research using ASCs has already demonstrated great promise in areas such as ALS, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, spinal cord injuries, etc.

In conclusion, although the USA continues to debate whether or not it will be a country that protects the sanctity of all human life, it is irresponsible for anyone to ignorantly advocate the funding of ethically objectionable research when there has been so little scientific value demonstrated. While the Bush administration has made a decision to limit federal funding on embryonic-stem cells, funding support continues in the more promising area of adult-stem cell research.

Dr. Patrick H. Young
Canal Winchester, Ohio

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