Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Stem Cell Research: My brother's disease and the Opportunity Cost of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

How high is the Opportunity Cost of Embryonic Stem Cell Research? I say it is just too high; and we aren't even going to discuss the ethical problems with destroying human life. My brother was just diagnosed (waiting for 2nd opinion) w/Chron's Disease (Autoimmune disorder). The disorder is characterized by an immune system that attacks the sufferer's digestive system. Embryonic stem cell research holds out hope for him. Adult Stem cell research provides not just hope, but proven results.

Two studies using Adult Stem Cells have shown results already.

First, in one study, a patient, a 22-year-old female who had suffered from it for more than ten years, was treated with her own blood stem cells. Within three months of the operation, her health had dramatically improved, she could eat comfortably, and her acute abdominal discomfort was no longer present. Sherman, Debra, "Adult Stem Cells Hold Hope for Autoimmune Patients," Gene, August 11, 2001. Accessed at:

Second, another clinical study presents the case of two Crohn's patients who received their own hematopoietic (i.e., stem cells derived from bone marrow) adult stem cells. They have been in remission for a year following the transplant. Burt RK et al., "High-dose immune suppression and autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in refractory Crohn disease," Blood 101 (March 2003) 2064-2066.

Opportunity cost is an economic term of art. Basically, it represents the road not taken; i.e. if you take the right hand turn, you get the benefits of making that turn...and the loss of having not taken the left hand turn. So, if the Federal Government funds $100 million worth of embryonic stem cell research, that is $100 million that could instead have gone into adult stem cell research.

I ask you, would you invest your own money into research of an unproven technology or one already set up and established? Why throw money into research that has _NO_ guarantee of success, when Adult stem cell research has already produced results. You want to stop human suffering? Avoid the ethics of embryo stem cells and invest in Adult Stem Cell research.

Want a list of recent research along these lines and other Adult Stem cell advances?

I hope that folks will care about the living more than science fiction potential cures for various diseases when there are medically and scientifically viable cures and treatments already available. Frankly, I'm ashamed of the LDS politicians who would turn the Federal Governments back on research that would benefit my brother in favor of research that may not benefit anyone ever [even proponents admit there will be at least an 8-10 year lag time on embryonic stem cell research].


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