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placeholder Local charities deliver holiday wish lists

Project Joybells delivers the kinds of toys kids would be asking for

Scientists mix with politics to delay worthy stem cell treatments

St. Jarlath: Rebuilding a school, one step at a time

Catholic colleges advised to remain ‘Catholic’

Help retired religious
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Domincans worldwide gather to mull new challenges7

With 100 crosses in the ground, a pause for prayer

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St. Isidore’s holiday outreach gets helping hand

Adopt-a-Family matches needs and volunteers

St. Vincent de Paul to serve Thanksgiving meal in Pittsburg

Vatican to discuss stem-cell research

Bishop issues Communion conditions

Leading Catholic laity urge civility in presidential election

De La Salle seniors honored

Men’s conference draws 200

placeholder November 21, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 20   •   Oakland, CA
Scientists mix with politics to delay
worthy stem cell treatments

A veteran scientist in stem cell research warns the U.S. is falling behind in stem cell work because “paralyzing politics” is blocking work on adult stem cells.

Theresa Deisher

Theresa Deisher told a Catholics at Work breakfast in San Ramon that both politicians and the news media are helping to keep Americans from gaining the benefits of adult and umbilical cord stem cells (ASC).

In contrast, researchers in most other countries work with ASCs. Deisher estimated that worldwide there are 550 ASC research projects under way, including 150 in the U.S. But ASC research in the U.S. goes on largely without government funding and almost no media attention.

Embryonic stem cell (ESC) research is given most of the government research money and media attention. ESC derivation requires the destruction of a human embryo.

ASCs are being used to treat patients for various conditions in other countries. Some Americans are going overseas for ASC treatment. As examples, Deisher cited football players Peyton Manning, who was treated in Europe, and Terrell Owens, who went to South Korea.

“Adult stem cells are very effectively treating animals in the U.S. and are treating humans everywhere except the U.S. Adult stem cells are safe, effective and affordable.”

Deisher brings strong credentials to the discussion, as an expert in ASC therapies and regenerative medicine. She is the president of AVM Biotechnology, a Seattle research start-up that is pledged to develop health solutions that do not use fetal material obtained by abortion.

The Catholic Church teaches that it is morally wrong to use aborted embryos, but that using ASCs is morally acceptable.

Deisher graduated with a doctoral degree in molecular and cellular physiology from Stanford University. She went on to become a significant stem cell research scientist for several major biotech firms, including Amgen, and is an inventor on 22 issued U.S. patents.

She argued that, while the public thinks that scientists are advancing stem cell research “in fact, the truth is the opposite. Scientists are blocking the adult stem cell research that should be going forward.”

“Adult stem cells are safe, effective, affordable,” Deisher emphasized. Moreover, they often are much less costly. “It is ludicrous that economics does not eliminate the paralyzing politics of this.”

Most federal research grants are awarded for ESC research, even though the Dickey-Wicker amendment, passed every year since 1996, prohibits its funding. The Justice Department under President Obama has fought the amendment and won its suspension last July.

Research grants are rarely given for clinical ASC work, Deisher said. Yet progress with ESCs has been so slow that even the voter-approved $3-billion California stem cell fund, promoted to voters as funding for ESC research and development, has begun awarding funds for clinical ASC research.

The media contributes to the distortion, according to Deisher. Research advances with ASCs are rarely reported as such. Generally the media reports it as merely “stem cell” advances, leaving the impression that it is from embryonic stem cells.

Catholics at Work is a monthly breakfast group that meets in Danville. It features individuals who are addressing challenging workplace issues by applying core values from the Gospel and Christ’s example. Information is available at www.catholicsatwork.org.

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