Monday, June 17, 2002
I dropped a note earlier Monday to Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds regarding a post he had made about the human cloning and a recent scientific breakthrough. Scientists in Australia have grown a functioning thymus from stem cells. Glenn referred to this development as a setback for anti-cloning forces (of which I am a member -- I guess -- I didn't get an ID card or secret decoder ring or anything else).
I wrote him the following:
Glenn, I might be mistaken, but I think you've got this development wrong, at least as it relates to the cloning debate.
To quote from the article you linked to:
The Monash scientists put thymus stem cells into the kidney cavity of a mouse.
"To see the thymus grow, complete and working, was exciting," Professor Boyd said.
Note it says "thymus stem cells" this would indicate to me that these were taken from a developed organ. Otherwise the reference would likely be to "embryonic stem cells" which are undifferentiated.
Also, according to the theory, if embryonic stem cells were injected into the kidney, they should have turned into kidney cells -- not thymus.
I'll admit I don't know all there is to know about the science -- but it appears to me that this report is fodder for the anti-cloning debate -- another scientific success for adult stem cell research -- which doesn't require the destruction of any human embryos.
Well, as far as I'm concerned that's actually better news if it's true. I'm more interested in the treatments than in how they're arrived at, and success with adult stem cells shortcircuits a lot of potential political opposition. And he's right -- I assumed the story was about fetal cells, but it doesn't actually say that.
I must say that I'm glad that Glenn feels this way -- and I wish that there were more people out there like him. I've written before that while embryonic stem cells are all the rage because of the testimony of celebrities like Michael J. Fox and Mort Kondracke, there isn't much there to be excited about. While adult stem cell research has made some amazing strides and has some solid achievements, embryonic stem cell research has been a failure.
Scientists have said that the power of embryonic stem cells is that they can turn into anything -- and that's been the major problem with them. Injected into humans, they do turn into anything, and everything -- causing tumors that can be fatal.
It's a few months old -- and due for an update -- but Michael Fumento over at National Review Online outlined some of the successes of adult stem cell research.
We should be spending our research dollars where it will do the most good for humanity -- thus far that money has been far better spent on adult stem cell research.