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Fetal Stem Cells, Parkinson Disease, and Secular gods—promises never to be kept? June 22, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in ethics, medical science, news, religion, science, secularism, stem cell research.

The following is from a recent article written by Gregory W. Rutecki, MD and published in Bioethics Weekly, an on-line publication of the The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity.

When fetal stem cells are publicly discussed, three diseases—often represented by their celebrity spokespersons—lead a list of potential therapeutic applications. They are Parkinson Disease (Michael J Fox), paralysis as a result of spinal cord injury (previously the late Christopher Reeve), and Diabetes Mellitus, type 1, (either Mary Tyler Moore or Ron Santo). The media packages the information as foregone conclusions: fetal stem cells are a veritable source of untapped, and then implied, “unlimited” therapeutic uses. A stunning recent series of setbacks in the context of fetal stem cells and Parkinson Disease (PD), however, has not received equivalent publicity. It appears that the promise of this controversial, and as of yet unproven, therapeutic modality for an estimated one million persons with PD, has been scientifically exposed and found wanting.

The journal Nature Medicine published three articles in May 2008 analyzing eight patients from three separate cohorts who received human fetal midbrain tissue transplants 9-16 years earlier for PD.1 The published results led to two insightful editorial commentaries. The studies have dispelled the myth that fetal stem cells are a straightforward panacea for PD. In addition, they propose a plausible theory that these cells, even with continued research, may never work in this regard.

From a scientific perspective, it appears that the use of fetal stem cells is akin to treating a symptom, but not the real disease of PD.

From an ethical perspective, a veritable cornucopia has been opened. “How is fetal cell therapy ethically suspect?” Well, let’s count the additional ways!” Not only has the critical issue of personhood in the donor not been addressed adequately, but now, the May studies have exposed fetal stem cell therapy for PD for what it really is–a potentially dangerous therapy that is not curative, not standardized, and occasionally fatal. How can informed consent be obtained if all these other substantive ethical issues continue to be ignored? As an aside, one study above, was also an example of “stem cell transplant tourism.”6 The patient and family had no recourse if there were legal concerns after his death because the transplant team resided in another country.

It is time to place a moratorium on fetal stem cells for the treatment of PD. Not only has the donor’s personhood been assaulted, but furthermore, scientific data has also questioned safety and efficacy not only in the present, but well into the future.

I posted the above in part because it offers additional evidence against fetal stem cell research as the next means of humanity’s salvation. Humanists and secularists used to criticize the testimony to divine healing by the moral and religious as unreliable and childish make-believe. Yet, it seems that secularists now practice the same type of faith in their god–science. Worse, they are willing to sacrifice unborn humans to their gods for the shabby hope that some of themselves might be saved for a moment from death. The superstitious ancients, e.g. Canaanites, did the same.

No one wants to die, but the inevitable is not the real issue. The real issue is what comes after death. Secularists live in denial, but the religious live by faith in the evidence. Practicing medical doctors have discovered their resuscitated patient continue to live after death. Maurice Rawlings, MD has written several books on his findings and so has Dr. Sabom.

Today, the tables have turned somewhat. Testimonies of divine healing and life after death is often backed by medical evidence. While medical and other science studies reveal the ineptitude of the secularist savior. But, then medical science never has healed anyone. It has often provided effective means to aiding and enhancing the body’s own healing mechanisms. Guess who created the body and its self-healing mechanisms–God.

I cannot resist the urge to mention the supposed global warming issue. In all of the research and debate, the underlying problem is not too many hydro- carbons or depletion of the ozone. The fundamental cause is science’s great inventions. Why isn’t anyone criticizing science? One possible answer is that demeaning the religion of another demonstrates unacceptable intolerance. Money is likely another reason. Just consider how many corporations, politicians, professors, engineers, and scientists have made lots of money helping to ruin our environment.



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