This story from Wired remains anecdotal, but it illustrates two important points: First, there is far more going on to help people with degenerative conditions than therapeutic cloning or embryonic stem cells. In this experiment, rats were injected with a hydrogel, similar to that found during gestation around the developing spinal cord, and also implanted bone marrow stem cells. The results were truly encouraging: “Not only did the rats show unprecedented neural regrowth, they also recovered much of the limb function they had lost when the researchers initially injured them.”
But just as significantly from the perspective of the advance of science, these kinds of experiments simply could not be done without using animals. Animal rights/liberationists continually assert that it is useless to use animals in medical research since they are not identical genetically to humans. It doesn’t matter how often assertion is proved false, they just keep making it.
But these rat experiments show that a potential approach to helping people with chronic, long term paralysis due to spinal cord injury may be doable. Without these rats–which were paralyzed intentionally to test the procedure–we wouldn’t have any way of knowing this.
Animal liberationists can pretend that animal research offers little human benefit. They are clearly wrong. With a few exceptions, they don’t have the candor to state they want to give up these advances to ensure that animals don’t suffer because, in their view, “a rat, is a pig, is a dog, is a dog.” We all feel pain, so we are all morally equal.
If we go down the animal rights/liberation road, our suffering will be the primary consequence.