Stem cell treatments are moving forward with amazing promise, if you are a dog or a horse. But for us humans, stem cells are caught in the political machine, much like the rest of health care in the USA.
Stem cell research has been a tale of two technologies in that it has exited the medical community yet inflamed political forces.
On the positive side stem cell research has ignited promise for treatment of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, and muscle damage, amongst a number of other impairments and conditions.
The vortex of controversy swirls around embryonic stem cells taken from human embryos in the early stages of development. To create these stem cells requires the destruction of an embryo and considered by some (mostly anti-abortion groups) the taking of a human life. It is important to note that stem cell research has others forms (often called adult stem cells) that do not involve embryos thus not taking a life by some people’s sanctity-of-life values. Nonetheless, this debate has put a stigma on the entire stem cell discuss. However, adult stem cell treatments (NOT embryonic) have moved ahead in animals with some awesome results.
Instead of getting into a medical dissertation, take a look at this video about how adult stem cell treatments have been used successfully on dogs.
Another famous case involves a racehorse named “Be A Bono” who won 16 out of 24 starts, earned more than 1.3 million in prize money, and was the 2004 World Champion Quarterhorse after a stem cell treatment.
While I am happy for the animals of the world, it is a bit unnerving that there are no videos on YouTube (that I can find) with heart touching stories of people who where helped as a result of adult stem cell treatments (once again, emphasizing not using a human embryo). I can’t help but wonder if our ongoing political screaming matches debating embryonic stem cells are drowning out the cries for help thus stifling progress in the entire stem cell arena, at least for us human beings.
I’ve often said that we have a lot to learn from our animal friends, and this seems to be the case with adult stem cell treatments. Let’s hope that some of the recent changes in the political winds for stem cell research will blow away the dogma (sorry, but you know it had to be said) and open our eyes to our brothers and sisters in need.