Lozier Institute VP sets New York Times straight on adult stem cell success

fetal tissue stem cells bioethics

At the Daily Caller, Charlotte Lozier Institute research director Dr. David Prentice has an invaluable new article exposing what he calls “the best kept secret in medicine.” You see, there are currently thousands of experiments and over a million people who have benefited from stem-cell research.

But while stem cells constantly made headlines a decade ago, today one barely hears of these advances, for the simple fact that the kinds of stem-cells being used are adult stem cells not derived from the destruction of human embryos.

For instance, Prentice cites a recent New York Times article lamenting the “slow” progress of embryonic stem cell trials to disingenuously imply slow progress in all stem cell trials. He further calls out NYT for smearing adult cell clinics, by lumping in legitimate clinics in the United States with illicit foreign clinics:

It then juxtaposes the critique of U.S. stem cell clinics with the tragic story of a patient who traveled to three different overseas clinics to receive “stem cell injections” and developed a growing mass of cells on his spine from at least one of the injections. The implied warning is that all U.S. adult stem cell clinics are using similar methods, and, by extension, their patients may experience similar problems. Indeed, many clinics are offshore to avoid FDA rules, but yet again the article drops adjectives and sows confusion.

The truth, Prentice shows, is very different:

Contrary to the blinkered portrayal of stem cells in the article, there are in fact almost 3,500 ongoing or completed clinical trials using adult stem cells, listed in the NIH/FDA-approved database.  Moreover, large numbers of patients have been treated with adult stem cells.  In 2012 there were almost 70,000 patients treated around the globe in that year alone, and almost 20,000 patients treated in just the U.S. in 2014.  Cumulatively, it’s been documented that as of December 2012, there had already been over one million adult stem cell transplants.  This means that now, over 1.5 million patients have had their lives saved and health improved by adult stem cell transplants.

Indeed. Embryo-derived stem cells have proven so fruitless that investment in them has largely dried up and migrated to researchers working with adult stem cells derived from ethical sources, such as umbilical cord blood.


The truth is that recent years have seen a long line of positive results from sticking with adult stem cells, such as an April report that adult stem cells had strong potential to cut heart failure deaths in half, and potentially mitigating shortages of donor organs.

In 2009, the late National Institute of Health director Dr. Bernadine Healy declared embryonic stem cells “obsolete,” because “scientists have learned to coax” adult stem cells “to mature into many cell types, like brain and heart cells, in the laboratory,” and because DNA from adult skin can be reprogrammed into functional equivalents of embryonic stem cells (“eclips[ing] the value of” ESCs thanks to “significantly lower cost, ease of production, and genetic identity with the patient”).

Embryonic stem cell pioneer James Thomson has also admitted that adult stem cells in which pluripotency (the ability to become other cell types) has been induced “do all the things embryonic stem cells do.” So even if the ethical problem of killing tiny humans wasn’t present, there would simply be no point to pursuing embryonic stem cells. And because tiny humans are killed in this utterly pointless research, continuing it is simply indefensible.

Prentice closes with a powerful example of what’s at stake:

People like Cindy Schroeder who thought she was given a death sentence when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.  But Cindy’s doctor was informed on the facts of modern medicine, and was able to inform Cindy and her family that there was hope—from adult stem cells.  Over a year after her “stem cell treatment,” Cindy leads a full, active life and her family is closer than ever.

Given all we know now, what argument can possibly remain against focusing all our money and attention on the research that saves lives without taking any in return?

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