Human Exceptionalism

Adult Stem Cells Cure Blindness

If this human breakthrough had occurred with embryonic stem cells, the front page stories would have screamed around the world.

But it was adult stem cells and so the reporting was muted. You see, the media still–after all these years–tend to judge the newsworthiness of a story based on whether a breakthrough is embryonic. 

The story is sensational, nonetheless. Adult stem cells have cured blindness and may provide a splendid treatment for cataracts. From the Telegraph story:

Cataracts can be cured by using a patient’s own stem cells to regrow a ‘living lens’ in their eye, restoring sight in just three months, scientists have shown. In research described as ‘remarkable,’ surgeons reversed blindness in 12 infants born with congenital cataracts by removing the damaged lens and coaxing nearby cells to repair the damage.

This is great news. And the potential is really exciting:

“An ultimate goal of stem cell research is to turn on the regenerative potential of one’s own stem cells for tissue and organ repair and disease therapy,” said Dr Kang Zhang, chief of Ophthalmic Genetics and founding director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

“The success of this work represents a new approach in how new human tissue or organ can be regenerated and human disease can be treated, and may have a broad impact on regenerative therapies by harnessing the regenerative power of our own body.

My, how times change. Ten years ago, hat was the very kind assertion that led many in media, politics, and Big Biotech to brand embryonic stem cell opponents “anti-science” for predicting that with adult stem cells, this very scenario would occur.

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