Notes: Nancy Reagan has called for a lifting of George W. Bush's restrictions on stem cell research. Fifty-eight senators sent a letter to Bush urging him to lift restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. Meanwhile, Laura Bush appeared on television saying that you had to balance science with morals. The translation of that is "Hey, people, we don't want to lose the anti-abortion vote." Morals?
My mother has Alzheimer's and no longer knows who I am. My grandmother went through the disease as well. I'll choose a chance to learn about the disease and possible mitigation of it over saving a five-day-old blastocyst that essentially is a ball filled with some 100 cells.
SUGGESTION TO STOP HERE UNLESS YOU ARE CONNECTED TO SOMEONE WITH THE DISEASE.
The Washington Post ran an article last Thursday on Alzheimer's that used the misleading headline: "Alzheimer's Therapy Doubted" with the summary, "Those with Reagan's disease may not benefit form stem cells, scientists say." The article, by Rick Weiss, read quite differently than the head and the summary. Note that the headline limits the scope of the statement to "therapy," but not research. But, a quick read makes you think stem cells are useless in relation to Alzheimer's.
Where the headline -- obviously written to sell papers -- came from is that the story states that Alzheimer's may not be a disease where the insertion of stem cells into the brain turns out to be of any great benefit because of the varied parts of the brain the disease affects. However, the piece came squarely down in favor of stem cell research for Alzheimer's from the angle of studying the disease in the lab using stem cells to try to learn about the disease.
Moreover, the article stated that both diabetes and Parkinson's -- I have friends with both -- were solid candidates for placement of stem cells in the human body for cure or mitigation of the diseases because those disease, unlike Alzheimer's, came from small, identifiable areas.
By that night CNN had, of course, picked up the story only from the headline and summary and made it sound like stem cells could not be used in relation to Alzheimer's. I did write to the Post's ombudsman about the misleading headline. 06.13.04