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Stem Cell Research - A Little Truth Wouldn't Hurt

Stem Cell Research -- A Little Truth Wouldn't Hurt

Making Sense, by Michael Reagan

Stem cell research is one of the major issues in many campaigns across the country in this election year, and it is being demagogued like few others.

In the interest of truth in politics it's worth noting that there are two kinds of stem cells research -- one involving embryonic stem cells (ESC) and the other using adult or cord-blood stem cells. The overwhelming number of candidates, Republican and Democratic, favor research on stem cells gathered from adult and core-blood sources. But many, mostly Republicans, oppose ESC research because harvesting the cells requires killing a living human embryo, and in many cases result from cloning human embryos for the sole purpose of harvesting the stem cells from the embryos killed in the process.

All across the country, Democrats and their lackeys in the media distort the issue by portraying those opposed to embryonic stem cell research as being opposed to all stem cell research, refusing to draw the crucial distinction between the two types.

In addition to this dishonest tactic, proponents of ESC research inevitably claim that it is the form of research holding out the most promise as an effective means of curing a host of serious physical and mental disorders, while either ignoring or downplaying the incredible results now demonstrated in adult and core-blood stem cell research.

Moreover, a great falsehood been spread that President Bush and fellow Republicans opposed to embryonic stem cell research have attempted to ban it outright, when the truth is that all they have done is to seek to deny it government funding. Those who want to pursue it are free to find other sources of revenue, which -- if the promises made on its behalf were credible -- would be readily available from sources such as drug companies.

Such funding is not forthcoming, and for very good reasons.

Think about it this way: there are about 70 to 80 million baby boomers right now on the cusp of reaching the age where they will be susceptible to Alzheimer's disease.

With that many people just in the U.S. facing the threat of falling prey to Alzheimer's disease, wouldn't you think that if there were an answer to the problem -- as the use of embryonic stem cells has been widely touted to be by its proponents -- that the drug companies would be falling all over themselves to throw money at those wanting to do ESC research and come up with cures that would make them hundreds of billions in profits?

The fact that the drug companies have turned their back on ESC research should tell you something. One reason is that there is absolutely no basis for the claims that ESC holds a promise to cure all sorts of ailments from Alzheimer's to Parkinson's, or even spinal cord injuries. It's all smoke and mirrors and most of it is based on a single source -- the thoroughly discredited claims of South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who has been convicted of falsifying his research data.

One damning result of the ESC research that has been done is the fact that when the cells are injected into lab animals many grow brain tumors -- some malignant and fatal. Thus far, that is the sole fruit of ESC research -- fatal brain tumors. Drug companies aren't interested in funding that kind of outcome. There's no money in producing brain tumors.

In contrast to the dismal results of ESC, research on adult and cord-blood stem cells has produced real results, helping to cure such maladies as sickle cell anemia, lymphoma and juvenile leukemia. As a result funding is no problem here.

Claims that the president and his party are opposed to stem cell research fall flat on their back when you recall that last year Congress overwhelmingly passed -- and the president signed -- a bill funding the saving and storage of therapeutic core-blood stem cells and providing $150 million to fund storage of the cells.

That's the truth of the matter.

Mike Reagan, the eldest son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is heard on more than 200 talk radio stations nationally as part of the Radio America Network. Look for Mike's new book, 'Twice Adopted.' Order autographed books at E-mail comments to

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