Letter to the Editor

Send message with stem-cell vote

Sunday, October 1, 2006

To the editor:

The extensive media campaign by the proponents of Amendment 2 would lead one to conclude that its passage would unleash a torrent of treatments for multiple disabling diseases and provide an economic boost for Missouri as well.

Animal embryonic stem-cell research has been ongoing since 1981 (human embryonic stem-cell research since 1998), and there are still no viable cures or treatments. This process is technically difficult and requires a substantial number of human eggs for cloning or embryos obtained from infertility clinics. Immature embryonic stem cells differentiate inefficiently and have a reasonable chance of degenerating into cancer cells. Research involving these cell lines have been hampered by expense and patent/intellectual-property issues (follow the money).

Adult stem-cell research and treatments are ethical. These cells can be obtained from a patient's own tissues, so rejection and immunosuppression are not issues. They are much less likely to break down into cancer cells. Cells from one tissue source have been differentiated into other tissue types. Today, stem cells are used in treatments and cures for blood disorders, leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, autoimmune diseases and inherited metabolic diseases, and there are trials for many other diseases. Additionally, the potential of umbilical-cord stem cells is only being appreciated at this time, and the supply of these stem cells would have no limit.

Let the biomedical community know that you want viable and ethical research for cures and treatments. Vote no on Amendment 2.

Dr. THEODORE J. GRIESHOP, Jackson