irregular times logoA Life in Peril, A Stem Cell Cure, and George W. Bush's Deadly Indifference:
A Guest Commentary By Peter Welch

Dear Irregular Times,

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your article and bumper stickers on stem cell research.

My formerly athletic son has been crippled in the last eight months by an autoimmune arthritis for which there is currently no cure, only harsh medicines with dangerous side effects that may temporarily slow the inevitable progression of the condition.

Last summer he was a basketball player and laser tag champ, this summer he can barely hobble a few yards at a time with braces on his knees and a cane in his hand. The condition is entering his spine. He is in constant pain.

If he were a mouse, I could take him to Rockefeller University in New York City and get a cure. But since that cure involves the use of Embryonic Stem Cells, it cannot be used on humans. The 15 lines of stem cells Bush allowed when he decreed the Bush Ban in 2001 are all contaminated with mouse cells used as feeder cells. These lines of human Embryonic Stem Cells (hESCs) cannot be used in humans as therapies--too much risk of an exotic virus being introduced into human population.

With today's knowledge, fully human hESC lines can be grown, but all of these fully human lines of hESCs were developed after 2001.

My son's suffering is apparently due to a deficiency in a kind of white blood cell that suppresses autoimmune reactions. It is called a T-regulatory cell. Autoimmune diseased mice have the same problem. Rockefeller University researchers can take a few of the scarce T-regs out of an autoimmune diseased mouse and grow millions and millions of identical T-regs on a bed of ESCs in just a few days. By putting these lab grown T-regs back into the mice, researchers have STOPPED the mice's autoimmune condition dead in its tracks.

Why can't my son have as good a treatment as a mouse?

Today the cures are lying in hands of our medical researchers, waiting to be grasped -- if only their hands were unbound.

I am an Evangelical Christian who served the Lord with my time and tithes. I taught Sunday School for 15 years. I ran a large Christian Scouting group. I am a life-long Republican. But I will NEVER vote for Bush or any one else who supports his position on stem cell cures. Since the majority of Bush Ban supporters are Republicans, I doubt I will find any Republicans to vote for this November.

I wish Bush and his supporters could see my son's suffering. Better, I wish they could FEEL what my son feels. If they could, the Bush Ban would end immediately.

How is a group of a hundred cells the size and complexity of a grain of salt worth more than my son having a pain free life and the ability to walk?

It so happens that this Rockefeller technique has enormous potential for all forms of autoimmune disease--from multiple sclerosis, to lupus, to alopecia, to juvenile diabetes. Even asthma and allergies are thought to be caused by a lack of well functioning T-regs.

A treatment that could literally allow one hundred million Americans to recover their health is being banned from development. Do most Americans really understand what Bush has done?

This technique also means the possibility of growing UNLIMITED numbers of white blood cells to fight any disease including AIDS which as you may know targets a particular kind of WBC (CD4). An AIDS patient for whom drugs no longer work, could be saved with this technique by growing unlimited amounts of his own CD4 cells. Pneumonia patients with a drug resistant bacterial infections could be given the specific kind of WBC that would kill that pneumonia bacteria. Patients sickened or dying of viral diseases like SARS, hepatitis, viral pneumonia, mononucleosis, herpes, chicken pox, even small pox could be cured by growing the right kind of WBC's in mass and giving them back to the patient.

Any kind of WBC can be grown this way. The breakthrough of being able to grow specific kinds of WBC's for specific conditions and diseases is as big a break through as the discovery of penicillin.

What the heck is wrong with our country and my religion that we let fear mongers halt the march towards cures?

-- Peter Welch,

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