Human Exceptionalism

ESCR Not “Only Hope” for MS Patients

We’ve heard the mantra repeatedly: embryonic stem cells are the only hope (or the best hope) for curing this disease and that disease. But the evidence continues to grow that this just isn’t true.

Today’s story deals with multiple sclerosis. I have previously reported here at SHS and in journalistic publications that adult stem cells have stopped the progression of the disabling disease in Stage 2 human trials. Now, a different approach in early human trials is also showing promise. From the story in the Telegraph:

A vaccine that slows the progress of multiple sclerosis has been developed. Preliminary research suggests the vaccine reduces the damage inflicted by MS sufferers’ immune cells on their nervous systems…

The vaccine–the first that appears to slow the progress of MS–works by inserting DNA into the body to provoke an immune system reaction. A larger trial of the vaccine in 290 patients has begun. Alison Handford, from the MS Society, said: “These are very early but encouraging findings.”

There is so much going in in biotechnology that has nothing to do with cloning and ESCR. It’s time to stop the hype and acknowledge that embryonic stem cell research is merely one of many potential biotechnological approaches for treating diseases–most of the others being utterly non morally contentious. And cloning increasingly appears to be an unlikely avenue towards helping anyone anytime soon.

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