Human Exceptionalism

Question and Answer Interview with David Prentice

David Prentice has done more than anyone else I know to educate the public and policy makers about the potential benefits of adult stem cells. He is a co-founder of Do No Harm, which, among other things, posts the results of peer reviewed studies using non embryonic sources of stem cells. DNH has identified 72 medical conditions in which ASCs and UCB stem cells have demonstrated “some benefit” to human patients in clinical practice or early medical trials. The point of this is to use science to rebut the speculative or ideological assertions that embryonic stem cells “show the most promise” to treat patients–an oft made assertion that has certainly not yet been backed up by research results.

This empirical approach has been very effective. As a consequence, David was recently personally attacked in a disingenuous, and frankly, dishonest letter published in Science and penned by William Neaves (head of the Stowers Institute) and others–an approach typical of Neaves’ pull-the-wool-over -their-eyes style of advocacy. I have strongly advised David to respond in writing to Science. If the journal (which fell for the Hwang fraud) refuses to permit him to defend himself, it would tell us all we need to know about that journal’s ideological agenda.

I am told by David that he plans to do that. But for now, this Q and A interview with Kathryn Lopez of NRO, is worth reading.

Here is a key quote from that interview:

Lopez: What do you have to say about that recent letter that appeared in Science magazine on you and your work?

Dr. Prentice: It’s easy for someone to put words in your mouth and then claim that those words are false, which is exactly what the Science letter’s authors did. Do No Harm has not claimed that current adult-stem-cell treatments are ‘cures’ or ‘generally available’ at this time. We have consistently said these are examples where patients have been helped by adult/cord-blood stem cells and shown some benefit and improvement, something that can’t be said to be even remotely close for embryonic stem cells.

In fact, if you look in the supplement to that letter, you find the authors repeatedly noting that the references in our list show ‘improved long-term survival,’ ‘disease remission,’ ‘extended disease-free period,’ ‘alleviate the symptoms,’ etc. They [the references cited in the letter] actually validate precisely what we’ve been saying.