STEM CELLS 101 – long

This education on stem cells is written in the form of a discussion.  Tom is the classic adult stem cell naysayer and he questions their abilities and potential.  Tom’s statements are in italics.


Tom begins:

adult stem cells have been studied and funded for over 45 years.
Embryonic stem cells have been studied under drastically restricted
conditions for only ten years, with materials compromised by mouse dna
and therefore useless to human research. All federal funding for escr
was eradicated in 2001.

Both asc and esc were discovered in the 1960′s:
asc history of discovery:

Esc history of discovery:

Asc were used primarily in bone marrow transplants and they were never studied for any other purpose until ~1998. 1998 was also the year that dr. Thomson first isolated an embryonic stem cell from a human and this was the true start of embryonics research. As for the federal funding…in a world this varied and amazing, you must realize that there is great hubris and folly to only consider medical funding and advancements in one country. More on that later.

Comparing the two has all the rational sense of comparing the reading
level of a college-educated 45-year-old with that of a 10-year-old who
has been denied any reading material since before her third birthday.

I can’t agree. Embryonics are a 40 year old student who has never read, does not read now, and won’t be reading when he is 50. Even dr thomson, the “father of embryonics”, who i personally believe is a great man and a great scientist, has stated numerous times that any potential cures from esc are at least 10 and as much as 30 years out. The only way that 50 year old student might read if he first cures cancer because,
more often than not, esc turn tumorous after they do what they were manipulated to do. Also, he would have to go on a severe regime of immunosuppressive drugs in order to offset the high risk of rejection.

Adult stem cells have generated nine federally-approved treatments,
all to mitigate problems created by other treatments, such as
chemotherapy, for the actual diseases. Adult stem cells have never
“cured” anything.

“never cured anything…never ‘cured’ anything?”

You stress the word cured. Is this a semantic issue with you? For the sake of argument i will assume you have a problem with the word cured. Maybe we can revise the term cured and find more suitable and agreeable language. How about successfully treated? Treated with beneficial outcome? Or produced therapeutic benefits for human patients? If that is semantically more to your liking then we can look at the rigorous peer-reviewed articles that show applications of adult stem cells that have produced therapeutic benefits for human patients.

Here’s a list, granted it’s an abbreviate sample selection from a larger list but it is a place to start. It is entitled:  “peer-reviewed references showing applications of adult stem cells that produce therapeutic benefit for human patients”

It contains articles on adult stem cell studies that were published in peer reviewed journals like

  • The journal of american medical assoc.
  • The british journal of haematology
  • The new england journal of medicine


These studies document controlled clinical applications of asc that have ‘produced therapeutic benefit for human patients’. These studies address the benefits in treatments of 73 diseases. This list is from april, 2007, so the updated version is much longer.

If instead we choose to ignore the question of the semantic issue and just look at treatment results, you would find many people who disagree with your statement that “adult stem cells have never cured anything”. To start, you would have a very hard time convincing the following people:

  • The hundreds of heart patients who have gone from nyha level 3 or level 4 congestive heart failure (waiting for a heart transplant) to living near-normal lives. (i’d be happy to get you some of their phone numbers. They love to tell people how much their lives have changed.)
  • The canadian pro golfer with ms who is now playing golf again.
  • The 16 ms patients just announced in the past 24 hrs who have been given a new life at northwestern.
  • The many childhood cerebral palsy children helped at duke.
  • The spinal cord injury paralytics now walking because of dr carlos lima.
  • The dozens of diabetics given new life by dr. Vina in argentina and the dozens of diabetics saved from amputation by adult stem cells on four continents.
  • The stroke victims given relief from paralysis in germany, china, russia, and latin america.

And there’s more. Here are pages and pages and pages of more adult stem cell successes –

I also have an issue with your assertion:

“adult stem cells have generated nine federally-approved treatments, all to
mitigate problems created by other treatments, such as chemotherapy,
for the actual diseases.”

While you are once again only looking in the united states…let’s ignore that for the moment and just address your statement as it stands. You are correct that asc have been extremely successful in mitigating the complications created by other treatments, such as chemotherapy…but if you go to the n.i.h. Site and look up the number of clinical trials with adult stem cells, you will see 2,311 clinical studies.

Most of these 2,311 are directly for the treatment of diseases and not, as you claim, to mitigate problems created by other treatments. Your statement is demonstrably incorrect. While many are ongoing, a quick glance through the first 200 studies alone shows over 30 studies which are already completed, most of which have positive results. Also, the usda has done 114 studies that utilize keyword: adult stem cell. There have not been merely nine federally funded studies; depending on your screening criteria, the number is in the hundreds or thousands.

With so many positive studies and successful treatments around the world, who is to blame if the u.s. Is lacking in adult stem cell treatments? The studies are there, the results are in and the proof of benefit is there. Adult stem cells have verified their tremendous capability to treat in study after study and in well over 1500 peer-reviewed published scientific papers. If we as a country have failed to use these studies to develop treatments, go ahead and blame someone. Go ahead and scream for change from the rooftops. But you can not blame adult stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells have the potential to do everything asc can, as
well as regenerate damaged tissues in any part of the human body.
Overseas testing with esc have been able to grown human heart tissue
inside a rat, and regenerated damaged optic nerves in chicks.

“overseas” embryonic researchers, some of the greatest minds in science, have already been researching and trying to develop treatments from esc for 10 years. They have been incredibly well funded but they unfortunately don’t have a single ‘cured’ human to show for it. These scientists have my complete admiration, they have been faced with a daunting task and their efforts are very valuable and commendable. We have learned a great deal from them.

It is only unfortunate that, in regard to human treatments and through no fault of their own, they picked the slow horse to ride. Point of interest: many of these brilliant esc scientists are abandoning their embryonic research and are now doing research with asc due to the documented history of asc success.

Adult stem cells do work. Embryonic stem cells will work. Is anybody
getting this? The argument that “there’s no way to reach china by
sailing west, so let’s not even try” isn’t scientific. Granovsky isn’t
a scientist, he isn’t interested in looking for answers, he’s pushing
a political agenda based in ideological ignorance and personal

You are correct on two points. I am not a scientist and i am not looking for answers. An answer is defined as “a spoken or written reply or response to a question, request, letter, etc.” By definition, an answer can be right or wrong. Answers can also be given now or in ten years. What i am looking for is a solution. A solution is defined as “the act of solving a problem, question, etc.” There is a problem here and rather than an answer, i want a solution.

Here is the problem:
in 2005 there were 2,448,000 deaths in the u.s.
4 of the top 6 killers were:

  • Heart disease (652,000 deaths)
  • Cancer (559,000 deaths)
  • Stroke (143,000 deaths)
  • Diabetes (75,000 deaths)

There were a total of 1,429,000 deaths in 2005 from these 4 diseases and there are renowned stem cell treatment centers around the world that have been successfully treating patients with these disease for years. Around the world, people with these disease are actively receiving asc treatments and benefiting from them.

How many of those 1,429,000 deaths in the u.s. Could have been averted with asc treatment? How many of those 1,429,000 lives in the u.s. Could have been extended with asc treatment until other treatments were available? We’ll never know. Maybe we could have saved 30% of those people with asc or 428,700 people per year. Over 10 years that might amount to 4,287,000 people saved.

  • Saving 10% = 142,900 per year or 1,429,000 people saved in 10 years.
  • Even saving just 2% = 28,580 people per year amounts to 285,800 over 10 years.

285,800 people. That number may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but only until it’s your grandfather, aunt, dad or child whom is dying. Then, that one extra person saved, that one life extended, makes all the difference in the world. Will you really choose to wait for a potential esc treatment when it’s a member of your family who is dying? Will you wait when it is you who is the victim of a disease which is treatable with asc but only outside of the u.s.?

The solution i want is for treatments to be available to the millions in the u.s. Who are dying from diseases that are being successfully treated in many other parts of the world today. Like veruca salt, i want it now! Tom says i am motivated by a twisted political agenda, ignorance and selfishness. You tell me. Here is my agenda for all to see:

I want to help human beings who have life altering, debilitating or threatening diseases and i want to help them now with asc treatments. I do not want to wait ten years for a possible esc treatment.

Ascs are not enough. They will continue to be used, but they don’t do
much. There are a few treatments…

The list of diseases is currently over one hundred (100!) And growing all the time…and many of these diseases are considered incurable in the u.s.…and these treatment centers have gone through rigorous evaluation and assessment to insure that they are not snake oil salesmen as so many like to claim.

Just because the u.s. Is 10+ years behind the rest of the world in the medical technology of stem cell treatments doesn’t mean the treatments aren’t both successful and available.

As for whether the use of discarded embryos is a good idea or not…i have no interest in arguing that issue and i apologize for implying a position in #3 of my post. To me, the arguments and moral issues surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells are irrelevant.

Asc work now. Esc don’t work now. That’s my only point.

Why have we not executed in the u.s. What is already being performing in many parts of the world? Why not use what has been documented as working and has been working effectively for years?

I can’t convince you if your mind is made up but the evidence is there.

Ok. I’ve said my piece. Now i’d like to take a moment, take a step back and express the irony implicit in this. Despite this slightly contentious back and forth, the fact remains that our ideologies are much closer than you might think. The truth is, i want embryonic treatments to work. They don’t…now, but i wish they did.

I also think they should be researched. Despite the fact that embryonic research has been primarily fruitless for scientists around the world for the last ten years, maybe the u.s. Scientists can discover amazing new things given enough time and funding. Because we will never know what advances and benefits that research may bring us.

Embryonics must be researched because it doesn’t matter if we are talking about sailing west or going to the moon or mars or exploring beyond the edges of our galaxy. Even if we have no guarantees of advancement for the human race or technology, we still must do it.

We must do it “because it’s next. Because we came out of the cave and we looked over the hill and we saw fire; and we crossed the ocean and we pioneered the west and we took to the sky. The history of man is on a timeline of exploration and this is what’s next.” (10 extra pts if you can place the quote)

And they can be now because ips cells (induced pluripotent stem cells)  are modified adult stem cells that have all of the potential of embryonic stem cells and all of the problems but with none of the right to life controversy.

But personally, i am interested in helping human beings now.

Human beings who have life altering, debilitating or threatening diseases.

I want to help them now!
And we can…
and we aren’t…
and i don’t want to wait 10 or 20 years for a  possible esc treatment.

That’s all.


Update November 2011






  1. great post/info/links. But please change the ALL CAPS to something more readable. thanks.

    This will make it for many of your visitors so much easier to read in FULL. 🙂

  2. This shows very valid arguments against embryonic stem cells from a purely scientific standpoint. It seems that most of the arguments are based off of religion so it is a great find to see all of the scientific standpoints viewed. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: