Monday, January 26, 2009

First FDA-Approved Human Trials Using Embryonic Stem Cells a Cause for Alarm

Despite Hype, Many Scientists Believe Adult Stem Cells Are Best Hope

AGOURA HILLS, Calif., Jan. 26 /Christian Newswire/ -- While many researchers in California are rejoicing over the FDA's approval of human trials using embryonic stem cells, reputable scientists around the country are concerned that research on adult stem cells - the best hope for real cures - will be abandoned or overlooked.

"Of the three types of stem cell research, embryonic is by far the most costly, least useful and most destructive," said Dr. Kathy McReynolds, Biola University professor, bioethicist and director of public policy at the Christian Institute on Disability. "Both adult stem cells (taken from bone marrow and other tissue sources) and neonatal stem cells (from umbilical cord blood and the placenta) have been used in treating over 100 diseases successfully and have many superior qualities to embryonic stem cells. Nor do they require the destruction of human life."

The CID has scores of examples where adult stem cells have been used to successfully treat patients who have been paralyzed, as well as those suffering from leukemia, lymphoma, inherited blood disorders, kidney cancer, diabetes and even multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's Disease. However, not one single researcher has tested a therapy using embryonic stem cells in a human patient, recognizing that the risk is too great.

Joni Eareckson Tada of the International Disability Center is highly skeptical of these new clinical embryonic stem cell trials using paraplegics. Mrs. Tada, a paraplegic herself due to spinal cord injury said, "The study is aimed at testing the safety of the procedure, but current tests on rats have yet to eradicate the usual problems related to embryonic stem cell injections, such as the formation of tumors, genetic instability, and tissue rejection - all of which have resulted in the death of laboratory animals. If our goal is to find cures fast, developing therapies with adult stem cells is the best route. Let's invest our money into research that not only respects all human life, but offers a real remedy right now to many diseases."

The CID is part of the Joni and Friends International Disability Center, founded by Joni Eareckson Tada in 1979 to accelerate Christian ministry to the disability community worldwide. A quadriplegic herself since 1967, Eareckson Tada has been at the forefront in the bioethics debate, stating that research should not benefit one human life at the expense of another.

Note to Editors: Eareckson Tada and McReynolds are available for interviews from the Southern California area. To arrange an interview, please contact Melany Ethridge of A. Larry Ross Communications at 972.267.1111 or