Sunday, 23 October 2011

Adult Stem Cells: Is the Media Catching On?

When it comes to stem cell research, adult stem cells (ASC) have been outperforming their unethical, embryonic counterparts for years now. While embryonic stem cell (ESC) research only just last year began its very first trial on humans and is still trying to overcome issues with tumor formation and other harmful, deadly side-effects in animal studies for the past 20 years, adult stem cells have been successfully used in numerous adult studies for years and for many different diseases and conditions. The reaction from the media, as well as many in the scientific community, has been to ignore or belittle the positive results of ASC research while touting the “hope” and “promise” of ESCs. But, I recently came across a few articles that are way out of the norm for both the media and the mainstream scientific community.

First. ESPN The Magazine has an interesting article this week about how many professional athletes are seeking stem cell treatments for their injuries – adult stem cell treatments. Most recently, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning traveled to Europe for a treatment using his own fat cells to help his ailing neck. Other notable athletes to travel abroad for similar treatments are Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, NFL defensive end Jarvis Green and Yankees starter Bartolo Colon.

What is really amazing about the ESPN article is that it does not mention embryonic stem cells. At all. The entire article is focused on the development of treatments with adult stem cells and how progress of this research in the United States is being slowed down by the FDA.

Another interesting, but short, article is this opinion piece in New Scientist “In praise of stem-cell simplicity.” It is a rare acknowledgement by a very ESC research friendly scientific publication acknowledging of the effectiveness of ASC research. What’s more, they do it without a hint of skepticism, though they still maintain that “all avenues” of stem cell research should continue.

I definitely don’t think either of these articles indicates a shift towards a much more Adult Stem Cell friendly media, but they’re refreshing to see, nonetheless.