NRL News

When it Comes to Stem Cells, Media often reports not the actual story, but the story they want to report

by | Sep 22, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

In another post today, we’ve combined three posts from Dr. David Prentice which tell us two important things. First, there continues to be tremendous forward movement in therapies that uses adult stem cells to treat flesh-and-blood patients. Second, that proponents of the morally unacceptable embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) are still in trials to determine whether its use in humans is even safe, let alone effective!

Bioethicist Wesley Smith never misses a chance to highlight the resolute determination of the MSM (the Mainstream Media) to hype every teeny weenie step forward  in ESCR at the same time it drops down the memory hole every substantive advancement that uses adult stem cells. The following is excerpted from Wesley’s fine blog.


At the same time [that there’s been “a fawning front page story pushing ESCR”], there have been years of successful and peer reviewed adult stem cell studies involving patients paralyzed by spinal cord injury–in which patients have had feeling restored–which went virtually unreported.  If it isn’t embryonic, to the MSM, it often just isn’t worth mentioning.

Think I exaggerate?  Let’s take a look at one from 2009.  Paralyzed patients who had no use of their legs, were able to ambulate after a combination of surgery and adult stem cell therapy.  From the Wayne State University press release:

“The injuries in the study patients were 18 months to 15 years old. The patients, ages 19 to 37, had no use of their legs before the treatment. One paraplegic treated almost three years after the injury now ambulates with two crutches and knee braces. Ten other patients ambulate with physical assistance and walkers (with and without braces). One 31-year-old male tetriplegic patient uses a walker without the help of knee braces or physical assistance. When the stem cell transplant and scar removal process was combined with an advanced form of rehabilitative training that employs brain-initiated weight-bearing movement, 13 patients improved in the standard measures used to assess functional independence and walking capabilities.”

Did you miss the front page stories about this very encouraging early study?  Yea, me too. (Here’s a link to the peer reviewed published report.)

I somehow also missed the headlines about restored feeling for subjects with total loss of sensation published in Spinal Cord:

Thirty-nine consecutive patients with diagnosed complete cervical and thoracic SCI for at least 2 years and with no cortical response in the SSEP study of the lower limbs were included in the trial. The trial patients underwent peripheral blood stem cell mobilization and collection. The stem cell concentrate was cryopreserved and reinfused through arteriography into the donor patient. The patients were followed up for 2.5 years and submitted to SSEP studies to evaluate the improvement in SSEPs after undifferentiated cell infusion. Twenty-six (66.7%) patients showed recovery of somatosensory evoked response to peripheral stimuli after 2.5 years of follow-up.”

This general ignoring of adult successes and boosting less impressive embryonic studies has been going on a long time, as I reported in “The Great Stem Cell Coverup,” published in the Weekly Standard back in 2006.

So, in summary: The media often over report embryonic stem cell stories and badly under report better results when they happen with adult stem cells.  Just another example of media often not reporting the actual story, but the story they want to report.

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Categories: Adult Stem Cells