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March 4, 2007

A little bit of perspective can go a long way. If one believes the media, Dr. Catherine Verfaillie is a biased scientist whose research has significant flaws. Just as we suspected all along (they seem to say), the defects in her work “prove” that adult sources of stem cells are of no value, and we must push for federal funding of destructive embryo research.

Admittedly, there were some subtle errors in Dr. Verfaillie’s study that caused her to be more modest in her conclusions. Yet her basic premise, that adult stem cells (ASCs) can generate all three of the basic germ layers (from which all other body cells are derived), is still completely supported by other studies. Michael Fumento, writing in the American Spectator, put it this way:

Pointing to flaws in Verfaillie’s work to say that ASCs cannot develop into all three germ layers is like declaring that new revelations on the Wright Brothers’ methodology call into question whether planes actually fly or that flaws in Thomas Edison’s work indicate light bulbs may not light.

Dr. Verfaillie’s research led to many other studies that duplicated and extended her work. Here’s the actual score:

Adult Stem cells: 1300 clinical trials (over 70 approved treatments)
Embryonic Stem Cells: 0 (that’s right, zero: still being tested in animals)

In recent weeks, we also have seen the underreported story that human amniotic fluid may produce “embryonic-like” stem cells that can become all of the tissues of adult organs (see my commentary on this). It seems that the hype and hysteria to destroy embryos for purely speculative gains is overriding common sense.

American Spectator article

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