Vote NO on Proposition 71

Won't Prop 71 funded research provide cures for a host of diseases?

Proponents of Proposition 71 claim that the research funded will cure a host of diseases. However, on their website, they fail to distinguish adult stem cell research successes (which are NOT funded by Prop 71) from the failures of embryonic stem cell research (which Prop 71 specifically funds). A recent scientific review admitted that "So far, there are few examples of ES [embryonic stem] cell-based therapy using animal models of diseases that have provided encouraging and promising results."1 Several diseases for which stem cell research will never provide treatment have been included on the proponent's list to artificially inflate the numbers of people affected by possibly treatable diseases to garner support from unsuspecting voters. Below is a list of diseases in which stem cells may or may not be useful for therapy.

Disease Reality
Cystic Fibrosis Successes have occurred using adult stem cells (not funded by this proposition) to generate new lung cells.2 Human cloning would be ineffective for this genetic disease.
Spinal cord injury Both embryonic3 and adult stem cells (bone marrow and umbilical cord derived)4 have shown promise in treatment of spinal cord injuries.
Alzheimer’s disease Alzheimer’s disease was thrown into the stem cell pot because it adds to the number of people who have affected family members. However, according to Michael Shelanski, Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain (Columbia University Medical Center), “I think the chance of doing repairs to Alzheimer's brains by putting in stem cells is small.”  Regarding stem cell therapy for Alzheimer's, Ronald D.G. McKay, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says, “To start with, people need a fairy tale.”5
Type I diabetes, type II diabetes Proponents cite studies in which cultured mouse embryonic stem cells produced insulin However, these cells were not beta cells (cells found in the pancreas), but of neurological derivation, and insulin secretion was very low and not glucose dependent. The reported "success" for embryonic stem cells was actually a dismal failure.6 Any stem cell treatment for diabetes would have to simultaneously solve the problem of autoimmune damage caused by the patient's immune system (which would destroy the transplants), making treatment difficult or impossible.
Multiple sclerosis Numerous studies (including some preliminary clinical trials) have examined the use of stem cells in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. These studies have used adult stem cells7 (not funded by this proposition) or endogenous neural stem cells,8 but not embryonic stem cells.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis A study in mice showed that cord blood stem cells (not funded by this proposition) are beneficial in reversing the behavioral effects of spinal cord injury, even when infused 5 days after injury.9 A 2004 review of scientific literature indicated that adult stem cell treatments showed promise for treatment of ALS.10
Heart disease Both embryonic11 and adult stem cells12 show promise in treatment of ischemic heart disease, with adult stem cells being used this year in clinical trials.
Cancer Cancer is caused by cells of the body multiplying uncontrollably due to genetic mutation or viral infection, in some cases. Stem cells would not be useful in therapy. This wide spectrum of diseases was added simply because there are a lot of people who have been affected who might vote for the initiative.
Parkinson’s disease Proponents cite studies in which embryonic stem cells produce dopamine in the brain of rats. However, only 50% of the rats had improvement of function and 25% developed brain tumors and died!13 Anybody want to volunteer for the clinical trials?
Mental health diseases Since the cause of most mental health diseases is unknown, it is not known whether stem cells could be useful in therapy. However, since many people suffer from these diseases, it was added to garner additional support for the proposition.
HIV/AIDS AIDS is caused by an infectious virus (HIV) that attacks the immune system. Stem cell treatments could improve the function of the immune system, but the effect would be temporary until the new stem cells became infected themselves. Adult (not embryonic) stem cells would be the preferred treatment, although improvement would be only temporary.

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  1. Qing He, Jian Li, Esther Bettiol and Marisa E. Jaconi. 2003. Embryonic Stem Cells: New Possible Therapy for Degenerative Diseases That Affect Elderly People. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 58:M279-M287.
  2. H. Spencer and A. Jaffe. 2004. The potential for stem cell therapy in cystic fibrosis. J. R. Soc. Med. 97(Suppl. 44):52–56.
  3. Oliver Brüstle, Kimberly N. Jones, Randall D. Learish, Khalad Karram, Khalid Choudhary, Otmar D. Wiestler, Ian D. Duncan, Ronald D. G. McKay. 1999. Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Glial Precursors: A Source of Myelinating Transplants. Science 285: 754-756.
  4. Ankeny DP, McTigue DM, Jakeman LB. 2004. Bone marrow transplants provide tissue protection and directional guidance for axons after contusive spinal cord injury in rats. Exp. Neurol. 190:17-31.
    Li HJ, Liu HY, Zhao ZM, Lu SH, Yang RC, Zhu HF, Cai YL, Zhang QJ, Han ZC. 2004. Transplantation of human umbilical cord stem cells improves neurological function recovery after spinal cord injury in rats. Zhongguo Yi Xue Ke Xue Yuan Xue Bao 26:38-42.
    Koshizuka S, Okada S, Okawa A, Koda M, Murasawa M, Hashimoto M, Kamada T, Yoshinaga K, Murakami M, Moriya H, Yamazaki M. 2004. Transplanted hematopoietic stem cells from bone marrow differentiate into neural lineage cells and promote functional recovery after spinal cord injury in mice. J. Neuropathol. Exp. Neurol. 63:64-72.
    Saporta S, Kim JJ, Willing AE, Fu ES, Davis CD, Sanberg PR. 2003. Human umbilical cord blood stem cells infusion in spinal cord injury: engraftment and beneficial influence on behavior. J. Hematother. Stem Cell Res. 12:271-278.
    Qin Shen Susan K. Goderie, Li Jin, Nithin Karanth, Yu Sun, Natalia Abramova, Peter Vincent, Kevin Pumiglia, Sally Temple. 2004. Endothelial Cells Stimulate Self-Renewal and Expand Neurogenesis of Neural Stem Cells. Science 304: 1338-1340.
  5. Rick Weiss. Stem Cells An Unlikely Therapy for Alzheimer's. Washington Post Thursday, June 10, 2004; Page A03.
  6. S. Sipione et al. 2004. Insulin expressing cells from differentiated embryonic stem cells are not beta cells. Diabetologia 47: 499-508.
  7. Fassas A, Kimiskidis VK. 2004. Autologous hemopoietic stem cell transplantation in the treatment of multiple sclerosis: rationale and clinical experience. J. Neurol. Sci. 15:53-58.
    Fassas A, Kazis A. 2003. High-dose immunosuppression and autologous hematopoietic stem cell rescue for severe multiple sclerosis. J. Hematother. Stem Cell. Res. 12:701-711.
    Muraro PA, Cassiani Ingoni R, Martin R. 2003. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for multiple sclerosis: current status and future challenges. Curr. Opin. Neurol. 16:299-305.
  8. Magy L, Mertens C, Avellana-Adalid V, Keita M, Lachapelle F, Nait-Oumesmar B, Fontaine B, Baron-Van Evercooren A. 2003. Inducible expression of FGF2 by a rat oligodendrocyte precursor cell line promotes CNS myelination in vitro. Exp. Neurol. 184:912-922.
  9. Garbuzova-Davis, Svitlana, et al. 2003. Intravenous Administration of Human Umbilical Cord Blood Cells in a Mouse Model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Distribution, Migration, and Differentiation. Journal of Hematotherapy and Stem Cell Research 12: 255–270.
  10. Silani V, Cova L, Corbo M, Ciammola A, Polli E. 2004. Stem-cell therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Lancet 364:200-2.
  11. Hodgson DM, Behfar A, Zingman LV, Kane GC, Perez-Terzic C, Alekseev AE, Puceat M, Terzic A. 2004. Stable benefit of embryonic stem cell therapy in myocardial infarction. Am. J. Physiol. Heart Circ. Physiol. 287:H471-479.
  12. Bokeriia LA, Buziashvili IuI, Matskeplishvili ST, Kamardinov DKh. 2004. First experience with the use of bone marrow stem cells for regeneration therapy of ischemic heart disease. Kardiologiia 44:16-22.
    Liu J, Hu Q, Wang Z, Xu C, Wang X, Gong G, Mansoor A, Lee J, Hou M, Zeng L, Zhang JR, Jerosch-Herold M, Guo T, Bache RJ, Zhang J. 2004. Autologous stem cell transplantation for myocardial repair. Am. J. Physiol. Heart Circ. Physiol. 287:H501-511.
  13. Bjorklund, L. M., R. Sanchez-Pernaute, et al. 2002. Embryonic stem cells develop into functional dopaminergic neurons after transplantation in a Parkinson rat model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99: 2344-2349.