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Stem cell research offers promise, risks
by Summer Clarke
Jul 27, 2005 | 434 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BOUNTIFUL -- For now people like the late Chris-topher Reeves will have to keep fighting for embryonic stem cell research funding and hope it won't just raise more medical questions than answers.

Embryonic stem cells, one of the most versatile types of stem cells, aid in repairing tissue that is unable to repair itself, according to the Uni-versity of Utah's Genetic Sci-ence Learning Center.

The debate is between medical advancement and ethical misuse.

"Ethical issues are significant; it is not as clear cut. For example, would it be OK to use a spontaneously aborted fetus for the research, or would that be considered an abortion?" questioned Ted Liou, a Farmington resident and assistant professor with the department of internal medicine at the University of Utah.

"I've found in my research that once we discover something new, more questions than answers surface," said Liou.

"People need to be reasonable and willing to talk about the issues," he said. "We need to be wise as a society. We need to move forward with caution."

"At this point we don't know what stem cells can do. The stem cells could grow into a cancer instead of what they were put in to grow into," said Liou.

"I am in favor of stem cell research with sufficient ethical oversight. Researchers could get carried away. Someone should be looking over their shoulders to make sure that everything they are doing is ethical," said Liou.

"I think the debate on stem cell research is a question of where life begins. Some be-lieve that life begins at the time of conception when it is a ball of 20 cells," said Bountiful practitioner Dr. Ray Ward.

"We ought to be doing more stem-cell research. It treats diseases that are really difficult for us as doctors to deal with," said Ward.

"Thousands of these cells are thrown away anyway if they are not used after a certain period of time. Only a few of them actually are used to create a pregnancy," he said.

Right now not enough is known about embryonic stem cells to know in which ways they will benefit the medical world. Potentially stem cell research will become a tool to aid in a variety of health related issues, according to Ward.

"Anytime there is dead tissue that has lost its ability to grow, stem cell research should have an effect in that area," said Ward. "I hope to be able to someday tell my patients something other than there is not much I can do."

Among medical practitioners in Davis County there is a push to move forward with the research to relieve suffering.

"As a nurse, I have seen so much suffering. Christopher Reeves' sister is a friend of mine, and when he would visit my heart would go out to him. I appreciated his efforts to walk again," said Beverly Dodd, a nurse of 35 years who works with a health care company in Davis County.

"I am all for stem cell research. With the proper regulations on alert for misuse of the stem cells and emphasizing therapeutic implementation for humanity we can reduce the nation's health-care costs," said Dodd.

County- and nationwide controversy over stem cell research could slow funding for this innovative research.

"I made it very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money to promote science which de-stroys life in order to save life -- I'm against that. And therefore, if the bill does that, I will veto it," Bush told reporters in the Oval Office earlier this month.

Last month, Senator Bob Bennett, R-Utah, at odds with the President's position said, "I have supported federal funding for stem cell research with embryo lines already in place which cannot become a real, live child. And I'll continue to support that."

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, is also an advocate for federal funding of stem cell research.

sclarke@davisclipper.com
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