National Science Foundation Misleads About Adult Stem Cells

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture on June 14, 2011

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC

They have to know better than this. The National Science Foundation has erroneously conflated “induced pluripotent stem cells” with “adult” stem cells in discussing a report — which I also covered here — calling for continued federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. From its press release falsely entitled, “Social Scientists Study Impact of Human Adult Stem Cell Research:”

New research says studying both adult and embryonic stem cells can benefit medical science, but banning the study of either type could harm studies of the other. Researchers from the University of Michigan, Stanford University and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. recently investigated whether the increased number of studies with a certain type of adult stem cell has changed the overall course of research in the field. The researchers analyzed more than 2,000 scientific papers and found adult stem cells are not replacing human embryonic stems cells in the laboratory. Instead, the two cell types have proven to be complementary and any disruption of federal funding, they say, would negatively impact stem cell research overall.

That report published in Cell did not have anything to do with adult stem cells! It dealt with IPSCs. They are not the same thing at all.

Adult stem cells, such as found in bone marrow, blood, and many tissues, are not pluripotent. Nor are they manufactured by injecting genes into normal cells to “reprogram” them into a pluripotent state. Rather, they are natural body cells that are already showing great promise in thousands of human trials across the globe testing their safety an/or efficacy for conditions like heart disease, diabetes, MS, and spinal cord injury. This distinction is well known in science and frequently discussed in journal papers.

In other words, by calling IPSCs “a certain type of adult stem cell,” the NSF is either being intentionally misleading so as to fool the public and media (or is scandalously ignorant). This is politicization, pure and simple — and it is an example of why the science sector is losing its credibility.

Dr. David Prentice has more.

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