MSlogo2.jpgby intern Anne Marie D.
One of the greatest contradictions in modern healthcare is the willingness of many health organizations to seek greater quality of life for patients with a particular disease, such as multiple sclerosis, at the expense of forfeiting the quality of life of human embryos. One such organization is the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. For a list of other organizations supporting embryonic stem cell research, click here….


The NMSS website advocates the use of ESCR, claiming “to find new ways to prevent, slow or repair the devastating effects of MS, the NMSS supports the conduct of scientifically meritorious medical research, including research using human cells, in accordance with federal, state and local laws and with adherence to the strictest ethical and procedural guidelines”.
Unfortunately, the article makes no scientific case whatsoever in support of ESCR, instead attempting to validate their position by saying “research on all types of stem cells is critical because we have no way of knowing at this point which type of stem cell will be of the most value in multiple sclerosis.”
And yet, there is scientific evidence overwhelmingly in favor of a particular kind of stem cell research: adult stem cells. Regrettably, the organization pooh-poohs the newly discovered potential to reverse adult stem cells to their undifferentiated embryonic state.
embryo2.jpgWhile ESCR carries a hefty ethical pricetag, adult stem cell research has enjoyed tremendous successes in the treatment of numerous ailments, including autoimmune diseases, spinal cord injuries, and Parkinson’s, among others. Regrettably, the NMSS downplays such successes in relation to their ability to aid MS patients, stating “… gathering sufficient sources of such (adult stem) cells without harming individuals is not yet feasible.” What a saddening paradox, such arbitrary care for the welfare of individuals. Too bad embryos don’t enjoy such distinction.
The NMSS also downplayed the results of a groundbreaking study performed by Northwestern University, which holds great promise for certain MS patients. According to the university’s website in a statement on January 30, 2009:

Researchers from Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine appear to have reversed the neurological dysfunction of early-stage MS patients by transplanting their own immune stem cells into their bodies and thereby “resetting” their immune systems.

Patients experienced improvement and then stabilization over a period of 24 months in the areas of walking, ataxia (loss of muscle coordination), limb strength, vision, and incontinence.
The procedure, termed autologous non-myeloablative haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation, involves removing the offending immune portion of the bone marrow, regenerating new, harmless immune cells, and transplanting them back into the patient’s body.
Further research is currently underway. We can only hope in the future the NMSS will promote live-saving scientific inquiry by way of ethical means, rather than by peddling unscientific arguments on the basis of political correctness.
[Photo attribution: strata-sphere.com]