Reporting Ban on Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Research Lifted
I can see, I CAN SEE!! November 8th, 2006 brings us news of “stunning” breakthroughs involving non-embryonic stem cell research. And to think that it only took the completion of a United States election for the press to cover these stories.
The first study involves the transplantation of retinal cells into the eyes of animals that have damage similar to that found in humans with various eye diseases. The study “challenges conventional biological thinking” because it shows that cells that have stopped dividing are better suited for transplantation than earlier stage embryonic stem cells.
Two versions of the report are circulating around; the MSM version as found in the BBC News Health section and the version being reported in the news arm of the Journal Nature.
Both articles correctly state that scientists are looking past embryonic stem cells for a solution. Yet the MSM version pretty much steers clear of the fact that the most promise is being demonstrated in cells that are actually one step beyond the stem cell stage.
No worries though, the BBC News version of the report does jump far enough into the issue to report that adult stem cells are a preferred option. This is progress in reporting in my book as the report clearly goes down the path of touting non-embryonic forms of stem cell research.
To get human retinal cells at the same stage of development, however, would involve taking stem cells from a foetus during the second trimester of pregnancy.
But Dr Robert MacLaren, a specialist at Moorfields Eye Hospital who worked on the research, said they did not want to go down that route.
He said the aim now would be to look at adult stem cells to see if they could be genetically altered to behave like the mouse retinal cells.
There are some cells on the margin of adult retinas that have been identified as having stem cell-like properties, which the team says could be suitable.
This is great news. Yet I couldn’t shake that nagging feeling that the BBC report was leaving something out. So I decided to jump over to the report in Nature.com to see if I could find out more. I only had to read past one paragraph to find the following sentence:
The finding challenges conventional biological thinking, because it shows that cells that have stopped dividing are better for transplantation than the stem cells that normally make new cells.
As I read the rest of the Nature.com report I discovered that the nagging feeling I had was correct. The study being reported details the results of a comparative analysis between various stages of stem cells and more mature newborn cells. The result demonstrated a failure in embryonic stem cell therapy when compared to therapy using newborn cells. Something not clearly reported in the BBC version as expected.
The article is too long to quote from directly so I urge those interested to read the whole Nature.com version and judge for your self. The report ends with the following quote from a researcher.
Researchers will now want to test whether newborn cells, rather than stem cells, are successful in other transplants, Reh says: "We've been doing it all wrong". Grafting new spinal neurons, for example, might help treat spinal-cord injuries.
The second report involves a study involving adult stem cells used to repair damaged hearts. Similar to the articles discussed above we find that success is being reported in the non-embryonic form of stem cell research.
Heart attack victims will be given a revolutionary new treatment involving an injection of their own stem cells to repair the organ damage that they have suffered.
Groundbreaking clinical trials are to start at two London hospitals into the use of the therapy, which is carried out within hours of a cardiac arrest.
Patients will be given injections of stem cells extracted from bone marrow taken from the hip to delay or prevent the onset of heart failure.
The reporter wraps it up with the following golden quote that would have been pretty hard to find a month ago without an equivocating rebuttal.
"Because the stem cells are taken from the patient themselves there are minimal ethical issues surrounding this procedure. There is also less likelihood of rejection complications."
Now they tell us! Too little too late for those in Missouri who bought the misleading MSM hype that was used to sway the opinion of voters across the United States.
This is another prime example of how substandard reporting in the MSM does more harm than good. The politics of misinformation is a ritual practice for reporters who are not comfortable with people making their own decisions based on facts. Of course I could come to their defense and call it ignorance. Either way the American people lose.
This article is crossposted at Webloggin.