Maybe – it could – we don’t know

I was watching Good Morning America Friday morning as I was getting ready for work, when I heard them mention the phrase the perks up the ears of every diabetes – stem cells*.

According to the story, the FDA has approved trials to determined if embryonic stem are safe to use in spinal cord patients. While this coincides nicely with the inauguration activities last week, the researchers will be using cell from the line Bush approved for use in 2001.

Of course, the first thing that Diane Sawyer asks after finishing discussing spinal recovery was regarding the use in other diseases “such as juvenile diabetes”. The answer was less than convincing (you can hear for yourself) with an evasion and then a lot of ‘maybe’ and ‘it could’ and ‘possibly’.

I honestly don’t think that the cure for diabetes is in embryonic stem cells. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune attack, so even if a stem cell begins to produce insulin, the body’s haywire autoimmune response will once again begin it’s attack.

I actually posted something similar to this about a year and a half ago after former President Bush vetoed a bill regarding stem cell research. I wrote:

Like him, “I support and encourage stem cell research — including using embryonic lines — as long as it does not involve creating, harming or destroying embryos,” … “That is an ethical line that should not be crossed.”

Do I want a cure? Absolutely – no doubt about it. Do I believe that the creation or destruction of human life should be involved in this process? No.

Besides, “opponents of the latest stem cell measure insisted that the use of embryonic stem cells was the wrong approach on moral grounds — and possibly not even the most promising one scientifically. They cite breakthroughs involving medical research conducted with adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood and amniotic fluid, none of which involve the destruction of a human embryo.” [taken from the article linked above – orginal link was no longer active – new link to a similar page]


What do you think about stem cells? Does your faith impact your view on this issue? Do you think that is where the cure will found?

*This is actually a good link for a comprehensive stem cell summary.


  • I am so disappointed to read that you think the use of stem cells has anything at all to do with the destruction of “life” and that you think there is any religious issue in this discussion.

    If your sense of god prohibits you from accepting the benefits of stem cell research you are welcome to refuse them. But, and I use this phrase with intentional irony, for god’s sake don’t prevent the rest of us from potential of this research. Keep your god the hell away from me.

  • Suzanne: No one life is worth more than any other born or not.

    Gary: you say it isn’t life, on what basis do you say that because the law flip flops when it wants to on that regard. If you were to crush a birds egg you could get in trouble for it, yet it is ok to suck a human “egg” from the womb because the mother doesn’t want it.

    The simple fact of the matter is destroying one life to fix another is never an answer.

  • Last year I had a chance to talk to a researcher at DRI that leads their Stem Cell team. He explained to me that the focus on stem cells they have is to source beta cells because there is a severe shortage of donors from whom they can get beta cells.

    They also have a team focused on the tolerance side, to address the issue of the body’s autoimmune response, so it does make sense to work on both fronts.

  • I don’t know where the cure will one day come from, but I agree with you and Scott that even if they can get the production of insulin started again that it will surely get destroyed by our immune systems. I happen to think that Dr. Faustman’s research will get us there before stem cells do, but that’s just my opinion. 🙂

  • “The simple fact of the matter is destroying one life to fix another is never an answer.”

    That’s sure a nice-sounding statement, but I have to wonder what you consume.

    You must not eat meat or eggs, as that would involve destroying another life to preserve your own. But you can’t be a vegetarian because plants are alive, too, so you can’t destroy their lives, either. Living off milk and honey would work, I suppose (if we ignore microorganisms and assume that no calves nor bees will be left without food because you’ve taken it), but that sounds rather boring and ridiculously expensive.

    So, no, I cannot accept an absolute statement that destroying one life for the sake of another is never acceptable.

    (This is also completely ignoring the side detail that fertility treatments routinely create large numbers of fertilized eggs which are destroyed anyhow. Even if we grant that they constitute “human life”, they are already condemned whether we extract stem cells from them or not.)

  • I think every little bit of research helps us to learn more, and spark new and innovative ways to use the discovered information.

    I know a lot of people won’t agree with embryonic stem cell use, but I have to agree with Dave. There are huge amounts of fertilized embryos that are destroyed, or unclaimed by fertility banks with no real backlash. Imagine if someone made you sign a form when you tried fertility treatments, that if you didn’t use all of your eggs, you could be prosecuted. Granted, that’s a really extreme scenario, but those are the type of things I think about.

    I also believe, God gave us the ability to learn from ourselves, and to heal ourselves, and I imagine there is a reason for that.

  • I believe that a cure for type 1 will not lie entirely in stem cell research, or Dr. Faustman’s lab (or similar endeavors to curb the autoimmune effect), or in genetic research – because all three will need to be combined. Yes, that probably means that a cure is far, far away, but I think that’s the reality of the situation.

    G is one of those with a genetic component with type 1, as there are others on the OC with this – his mom’s cousin was diagnosed in her early 20’s. I can’t believe that curbing the autoimmune response coupled with stem cell integration would help in his case. Just as I don’t believe finding a way to integrate stem cells will work without curbing the autoimmune response or genetic component – it’s all related.

    As I’ve mentioned before, my big issue with those who oppose stem cell research is the discarding of embryos created by IVF and similar procedures – those where the mission is creating human life NOT destroying it. Because success was found (or in many cases, wasn’t), the embryos are discarded. Why not use these embryos for good rather than discard them. If human life begins with an embryo, why aren’t unused IVF embryos as cherished as an embryo growing in a woman’s uterus?

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