Sunday, February 17, 2008

Once More William Neaves Misleads

William Neaves, head of the Stowers Institute, is perhaps the most disingenuous advocate for human cloning that I have ever encountered. To say that I disrespect the man is to say the sky is blue. Well, he's at it again in this story about human cloning and stem cell research in Missouri. From the story about the Stowers Institute staying in MO:

Under this protection [Amendment 2]research with human embryonic stem cells has begun at the Stowers Institute," he said.
But of course, embryonic stem cell research was being done before the passage of Amendment 2 at Stowers. More than a year before Amendment 2 was voted on, I testified at a legislative committee hearing opposite Neaves, and heard him say so. Indeed, had the legislation that gave rise to Amendment 2 (to outlaw all human cloning) passed, ESCR could still have been done at Stowers.

Given, that ESCR has been done for years at Stowers and given that Mr. Stowers donated $985 million to his institute to conduct ESCR according to the Rockefeller Institute, how can Neaves say that thanks to passage of Amendment 2 ESCR "has begun?" Because he actually is saying that Stowers' scientists are attempting to clone human embryos, for that--and not ESCR--is what Amendment 2 protects. But he would never be so honest.

"Those that oppose this research still threaten to overturn the stem cell amendment and the struggle to keep Missouri safe for medical science must continue." A new bill to ban Stowers research is pending in the General Assembly."We remain optimistic that most Missourians will oppose misguided efforts by some politicians to outlaw legitimate biomedical research," Neaves said.

I don't know about any bill in the Assembly and a search did not turn up any. There is a planned initiative to outlaw human cloning. But many believe human cloning is not legitimate medical research, which is why Neaves pitches so much junk biology to pretend that the new planned initiative would outlaw ESCR, which it would not.

Stem cell research in general has progressed rapidly over the past year across the nation, Neaves said. Embryonic stem cell work in Dallas last month resulted in treating muscular dystrophy in mice successfully. "The rapid pace of advances in embryonic stem cell research means that day when this science can be translated into cures is drawing near," Neaves said.
Earth to Neaves: Except in Missouri that kind of hype no longer works. ESCR has not advanced rapidly. There are no human trials. No animals have been cured of anything with ESCR. Only by bootstrapping onto the advances in adult stem cell research could that statement be made, for in sharp contrast to ESCR, adult stem cell research is moving fast, with human trials ongoing showing very hopeful results. Embryonic stem cell research isn't even in its first human trial yet and as for cloning, which is the issue surrounding Amendment 2, no stem cells have been derived from cloned human embryos.

And as for the mouse study Neaves mentioned: It did not successfully treat MD in mice. It was a proof of principle experiment that showed ES cells "could be turned into muscle producing cells," an advance that was described as "a strong first step." Second, they weren't normal ESCs but genetically manipulated. Finally ESCR is way behind adult stem cell advances for treating MD that have already moved from rodents to experiments with large animal, specifically dogs.

And get this: Look at what the head scientists said would be the likely source of stem cells for treating humans--induced pluripotent stem cells, that are reprogrammed from skin cells! This means, no cloning needed. From the story about the mouse experiment:

The study is headed by Dr. Rita Perlingeiro, assistant professor of developmental biology and molecular biology."We envision eventually developing a stem-cell therapy for humans with muscular dystrophy, if we are able to successfully combine this approach with the technology now available to make human embryonic stem cells from reprogrammed skin cells," Dr. Perlingeiro said. "These cells can be transplanted into the muscle, and they cause muscle regeneration resulting in stronger contractility."
So, once again William Neaves is proved to be a prevaricator par excellence, also known as a cow manure artist. He's lucky that the Missouri media is so in the tank that reporters never call him on his profoundly misleading rhetoric.



At February 20, 2008 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

From a reader: "Great article! As far as "A new bill to ban Stowers research pending in the General Assembly"; we have a bill
(HB 1953) that will prevent the creation of animal/human hybrid beings (Chimeras). What research we are trying to ban should be pointed out. Mr Neaves did not want to state what it was because he knows that the general public would agree with us. They don't want animal/human hybrid beings being created.

Thanks for all your work on this!"


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