October 24, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

The war propaganda myth of adult versus embryonic stem cells hurts everyone

warIf someone is not in a war, but someone else declares war on them or actually attacks them, I would say the reality is that war has started and there are two opposing sides.

However, has that happened when it comes to stem cells?

Are we in a stem cell war?

There have been times I thought the answer was certainly “yes”.

I’ve been personally, verbally attacked by opponents of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) on numerous occasions as have many other scientists and patient advocates. The opponents of ESCR like to call scientists working on ESCR “baby killers” and are going to great lengths to stop ESCR including suing the federal government.

In fact, the opponents of ESCR have many times declared war on us in no uncertain terms. They call it a “culture war”.

One of their favorite tools in this manufactured “war” is the myth that somehow adult and embryonic stem cells are also in some kind of war or at least on opposite sides. You can almost imagine the anthropomorphism going on by these folks imaging ESC in the trenches like Nazis on one side and adult stem cells as the good guy allies on the other.

The reality is that this is all a myth and a harmful one.

In fact, what the stem cell field collectively wants is to help people and to have the best tools fully vetted and approved to help patients. Those best tools may sometimes be one kind of stem cell and sometimes might be another kind of stem cell, but honestly the exact nature of the stem cell is not something that I care about.

The opponents of ESCR have lost all perspective because for them it is a war. For them helping people, even with adult stem cells, comes second to hurting ESCR. For them living, breathing people are simply not as important as microscopic embryos or even a one-celled fertilized egg.

Every good thing that they can report about adult stem cells they view as a blow to ESCR to the point that they actually manufacture good news about adult stem cells solely for the purpose of, at least in their narrow minds, hurting ESCR. If you read some of their posts, they have completely lost sight of the goal of helping people. They also view anything remotely “good news”-like about ESCR as (A) false, (B) harmful, and (C) to be discredited.

I almost wonder if ESCR cured blindness, let’s say via ACT’s work, if the adult stem cell propagandists would somehow find a way to present that as bad news.

We are left with a puzzle as we consider how to react to people who have declared war on us and who attack us verbally.

Is there war or not?  Even if there isn’t, I find it impossible to let propaganda stand unchallenged.

However we proceed, an important goal is to keep a tight grip on our mission of using stem cells, a diversity of stem cells, to help people.

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