Stem Cell Research: On Human Subjects or Human Cells

There was an interesting contrast between the two videos on stem cell research. While the 60 minutes investigation on stem cell fraud focused on the use of stem cells to cure disease by way of essentially experimenting with humans, the TED talk with Susan Solomon about the promise of stem cells focused on their use as “testbeds,” that could accelerate research into curing diseases. The importance of evidence-based practice kept flashing through my mind as the defensive Dan Eckland told Scott Pelley of 60 minutes that he kept running up against conspiracies between drug companies and governments. Susan Solomon mentions these “interferences” that she also experienced in the field of stem cell research, which she dealt with by starting “private safe-haven laboratories” such as the New York Stem Cell Foundation Laboratory. This allowed her to advance her research on stem cells without the interferences from big organizations. Perhaps Dan Eckland should have considered these other pathways instead of starting his own “lab” in Ecuador.

Despite the promise of Susan Soloman’s research on stem cells, I was slightly hung up on her idea of collecting stem cells from all genetic subtypes. This seems like an infinite task to me especially when you add into this mix inclusion of all relevant cells – brain, heart, liver, etc. The combinations could truly be endless. However the robotic technology she mentions that creates thousands of stem cell lines might be promising in this quest for individualized medicine.

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