Pro-Life Perspective: The Healing Cell

By Carol Tobias, President
National Right to Life

Dr. Robin Smith, President of The Stem for Life Foundation. Credit: Stem for Life Foundation

Dr. Robin Smith, President of The Stem for Life Foundation. Credit: Stem for Life Foundation

We often talk about the successes of stem cell research using cells harvested from ethical sources – like umbilical cord blood – or cells that are reprogrammed to act like stem cells, such as skin cells.  We talk about those successes because they’re the ONLY successes. While Hollywood and the big Bio industry has been advocating for stem cell research which kills living human embryos, the fact remains embryo-killing stem cell research just hasn’t worked.

A new book titled “The Healing Cell,” published earlier this month, is a welcomed addition to the literature demonstrating how successfully adult stem cells are being used in regenerative medicine.

Co-authored by Dr. Robin Smith, President of the Stem for Life Foundation, Monsignor Tomasz Trafny, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture’s Science and Faith department, and Max Gomez, a medical journalist, “The Healing Cell” is the outcome of collaboration between the Stem for Life Foundation and the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The two organizations held an international conference in Rome November 9-11, 2011, devoted to medical applications of adult stem cells.

Unlike embryonic stem cells, which are lethally extracted from the unborn, adult stem cells come from a host of unobjectionable sources and possess many intrinsic advantages.

For instance, adult stem cells can be isolated from numerous tissues, including bone marrow, muscle, fat, and umbilical cord blood, just to name a few.  And because the adult stem cells often come from the patient’s own body or a close relative, there is no need for drugs to prevent the body from rejecting the transplanted tissues.

Dr. David Prentice, Adjunct Professor of Molecular Genetics and an international expert on the stem cell topic, recently testified several times to Kansas lawmakers on this developing field.

Prentice quoted recent science and medical journals demonstrating that:

a. 1 in 200 Americans will undergo an Adult Stem Cell (ASC) transplant in their lifetime;

b. over 60,000 ASC transplants occur globally each year;

c.  there are over 2,600 ongoing, or completed, FDA-approved ASC trials

As Dr. Prentice told our own National Right to Life News: “Over 60,000 people around the globe are treated each year with adult stem cells. The diseases and conditions successfully treated by adult stem cells, as shown by published scientific evidence, continue to expand, with published success for numerous cancers, spinal cord injury, heart damage, multiple sclerosis, sickle cell anemia, and many others.  Adult stem cells also have a proven track record for success at saving lives and improving health on a daily basis.”

Dr. Smith gave an interview to Carl Bunderson of the Catholic News  Agency saying “There’s a paradigm shift in medicine now, using cell therapy to treat diseases, and it’s just a very exciting time in medicine.”

Bunderson wrote, “The success of adult stem cells has been so great that there is no reason to continue embryonic stem cell research, which necessarily involves the destruction of a human person, she argued, noting that there are 4,300 adult stem cell trials currently underway, but only 26 embryonic stem cell trials.”

“The Healing Cell,” which was published on April 2, includes a foreword by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who served as president of the Pontifical Council for Culture under Pope Benedict XVI

Msgr. Trafny told the Catholic News Agency his office aims to show people that “there is a possibility to embrace well performed research…and to do so in peace with your conscience.” The pontifical council wants to “show that there is hope, especially for those who are affected by degenerative diseases and who desperately need help,” said the monsignor.

“The Healing Cell” is a wonderful new addition to the ever-growing body of evidence showing that scientists need not kill living members of our human family to conduct stem cell research. They only need look to the ethical sources currently being used to treat patients and save lives.