So much for "only" a decade till we have ES Cell Treatments

February 13, 2007  ·  Michael Fumento  ·  Weblog

"Adult stem cells cure and treat more than 70 diseases and are involved in almost 1,300 human clinical trials," I noted in my recent Daily Standard article "Code of Silence." Meanwhile there's never been so much as one clinical trial involving embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Researchers admit we won't have approved embryonic stem cell treatments for at least 10 years."

I concluded by questioning the morality of turning larger amounts of federal research money over to ESC research when all they promise is promise - a decade out, at that. Well, as Gomer Pyle was wont to say: "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" Some ESC researchers are admitting that a decade is far too optimistic. "Some" means James Thomson, who along with his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1998 became the first scientist to isolate a line of stem cells from a human embryo.

In addressing the Wisconsin Newspaper Association's annual convention at Lake Delton, Wisconsin, Thomson pointed out that obstacles to therapeutic ESC research are daunting. "I don't want to sound too pessimistic because this is all doable, but it's going to be very hard," he said, and "it's likely to take a long time." As to how long, the Associated Press writer present characterized it as "likely decades away." Do the math with me. Two decades is 20 years, but Thomson didn't specify how many. It could be three or four decades.

As to what we can expect from those therapies, As the AP put it: "One day, some believe the cells will become sources of brain tissue, muscle and bone marrow to replace diseased or injured body parts." How truly exciting! Stem cells from bone marrow have been used for decades to create new bone marrow for cancer victims. In the last few years they have been used by doctors all over the world to rebuild human heart tissue. At least one experiment used these stem cells to therapeutically rebuild human liver tissue. Finally, bone marrow stem cells have been successfully used to treat brain diseases like Parkinsonism in animal models and assuredly will soon enter human testing. How soon? Well, probably a lot earlier than "decades."

Personally I'm just waiting for ESC research advocates to announce that, given enough money and decades of time, they'll also build a computer with the processing power of a give-away pocket calculator.