Deaths from stem cell RX

Heart to Heart Talk By Philip Chua Cebu Daily News

VARIOUS complications and even deaths (like those of the two Filipino politicians recently) have been reported following stem cell therapy. We are revisiting this issue to put in proper perspective the facts about this widely advertised form of therapy, which has been misrepresented and abused by some enterprising people.

What are stem cells?

The building block, the foundation cell, for every cell, tissue and organ in the body is the stem cell. Stem cells are undifferentiated, with no specific

assigned task as yet. This has been likened to a blank computer microchip that could be programmed to perform any number of special tasks. Subjected to proper conditions, stem cells will develop into

specialized tissues and organs (heart, liver, kidneys, etc). Also, stem cells are self-sustaining and can replicate themselves for long periods of time.

What is the controversy about?

Scientists, working on mouse models, have discovered that stem cell therapy could SOMEDAY possibly help cure many common diseases that afflict man today. Some of these include stroke, spinal cord injury, heart diseases, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, osteoarthritis, retinal degeneration and blindness, rheumatoid arthritis, liver and kidney diseases, burns, type 1 diabetes, and muscular dystrophies. While the goal of the stem cell research is unquestionably laudable, and its potential benefit to mankind tremendous, the controversy centers on its efficacy and safety today, ethical, moral, religious, legal and social ramifications.

Basically, the grave concerns are (1) The hype and claims are too premature and mostly untrue; (2) where the stems cells will be harvested from (adult, fetus or embryo), and (3) the possible misuse and abuse of this new technology. And I could not agree more.

As I have stated in my talk before the Rotary Club of Cebu last February, at CITE in Talamban, Cebu City, this evolving science merits more randomized, double-blind and voluminous clinical studies in various medical centers around the world before it becomes a standard in medical care. It also requires a deep soul-searching introspection, and a serious, intense, and thoughtful deliberation to arrive at a morally, ethically, and medically sound stem cell treatment protocol that will also ensure the protection of the unborn, besides healing the sick, and at the same time preserve the dignity of humankind it seeks to serve.

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Deaths from stem cell RX

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