Current Clinical Use of Adult Stem Cells to Help Human Patients

Proponents of embryonic stem cell research have created a false impression that these cells have a proven therapeutic use. In fact the embryonic cells have never helped a single human patient; any claim that they may someday do so is guesswork.

By Mark Pickup 

Some time ago, the National Post carried a commentary by Jeff White called "Don't suffer the little children: Our society appears undecided on the ethics of infanticide." White's muddled thinking seemed to advocate a "new ethic" which, I presumed, would embrace culling the herd of its lame and sick.

I read White's commentary from my wheelchair and shuddered to think about what sort of hostility his "new ethic" has in store for people like me who made it past infancy. Should I embrace his throw-away society's "new ethic" or even exploit it to my own advantage?

Last spring and summer, a flurry of media coverage surrounded the issue of research involving embryonic stem cells. With alarming frequency, news reports heralded potential cures for illnesses such as Parkinson's, diabetes, spinal injury and other diseases through the use of embryonic stem cells.

What are stem cells? They are a sort of master cell that can be made to develop into a variety of cells. The earliest stem cells, referred to as totipotent, have the potential to form a whole human being. A few days later, these cells now called pluripotent begin to specialize and can give rise to most tissu
es and organs found in the human body.