What does that mean?

As he prepared to head to Hawaii for his last break before moving to the White House, President-elect Barack Obama formally announced members of his science team (although a decision on whether to replace the current NASA administrator is still pending).

Okay, so he names two of his last appointments for now, and they’re both science related. What about this oath of fidelity?

For anyone who feels science has been disrespected in the White House of late,

(aha…that would be the writer here no doubt)…

the language of change was all there. “Whether it’s the science to slow global warming; the technology to protect our troops and confront bioterror and weapons of mass destruction; the research to find life-saving cures; or the innovations to remake our industries and create 21st-century jobs — today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation,” he said.

If we’re talking total faithfulness to the truths that science reveals, here’s hoping he realizes that “the research to find life-saving cures” that relies on embryonic stem cells is unsuccessful (without even resorting to the argument that they are immoral).

It was unambiguously clear five years ago that embryonic stem cells robustly form tumors (teratomas) when transplanted into adult tissues, and this remains the case today.

(Clear to anybody with sources beyond the mainstream media.) 

Teratomas are benign tumors that contain a variety of differentiated cell types (hair, teeth, muscle, etc.). These tumors can often prove fatal because of their rapid growth, but they are not malignant or cancerous tumors, which metastasize into multiple locations within the body. Embryonic stem cell advocates were well aware of the tumor-forming potential of these cells…

The tumor-forming potential of embryonic stem cells has proved a significant problem that does not show signs of being resolved any time soon. More than a dozen papers over the past five years (five papers within the past year alone) have shown tumor formation in animals treated with differentiated embryonic stem cell derivatives. In several of these studies, a shocking 70 to 100 percent of the experimental animals succumbed to fatal tumors. In all cases, tumors were believed to be derived from embryonic stem cells that either failed to differentiate or from cells that somehow de-differentiated once transplanted.

And there’s more…

Even more alarming than formation of benign (albeit, fatal) tumors, several studies over the past five years have raised concerns that the longer embryonic stem cells are maintained in the laboratory (or, presumably, in the tissues of adult human patients), the more likely they are to convert to malignant cancer cells.

But people aren’t generally aware of this because the media have not informed the public of the truth.

The assertion that embryonic stem cells in the laboratory can be induced to form all the cells comprising the mature human body has been repeated so often that it seems incontrovertibly true. What is missing from this assertion remains the simple fact that there is essentially no scientific evidence supporting it.

But the good news is now the incoming president has pledged to faithfully scrutinize and follow where science leads, so hopefully he’s about to find out.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....