Monday, February 9, 2009

Stem Cell Savior

Obama keeping stem-cell advocates waiting
By Marie McCullough
Inquirer Staff Writer

Within days of taking office, President Obama was expected to sign an executive order to remove Bush-era federal funding limits on embryonic-stem-cell research.

Now that days are turning into weeks, proponents of the research are looking for explanations while insisting that Obama's support has not wavered.

Rep. Mike Castle (R., Del.), a congressional champion of the research, said that last week, he explicitly asked White House officials about it.

"I believe there will be an executive order lifting the funding ban," Castle said. "My speculation is that it will happen in a few weeks. . . . They've had a lot of things to deal with. I see no bump in the road."

Read the remainder of the story in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

"Do you think you might try such a treatment someday in the future?" a friend asked me.
Would I try stem cell therapy? I don't know. I think Christopher Reeve was in some advance research, highly invasive medical experimental stuff for spinal cord injury, and he surely didn't look well in his last days.

There's a major contrarian element amongst disability activists about research. It is not so much opposition as it is frustration over every politician and charity being hot to trot over handing out the bucks for "cure research" while ignoring the idea that access and accommodation are grossly underfunded. The frosting on that cake is that it becomes easier to ignore access and accommodation by pointing to all the funds being spent on cure.

Cure is sexy -- "Rise up and walk!" -- but accessible bathrooms are prosaic.

I'm not one of the sorts who claim "Disability is beautiful. I don't want to be cured." I think disability as a condition is normal by application and different by degree.

All the same, I don't know what stem cells would do for me as a polio-injured person. If it would restore vital capacity to a normal range, I would probably sign up today. If I lived near a research hospital where I might participate in an experiment with stem cells, I might sign up simply to do something positive for science.

Of course, I am dealing with A Thing that Happened, while people who have MS or similar conditions are dealing with A Thing Happening. People with MS, I think, would be more likely to benefit from stem cell therapy.

So there you are: a definite "Maybe, but it really kinda sorta depends" ... answer.

In some way, I suppose, I don't think about it -- the walking cure -- much because after 50 years it seems such a fantastical thing, this idea that I might step out into the world again.

I prefer to live somewhere near the edge of reality, a place where I can concentrate upon the joys within reach.


sc morgan said...

Interesting post, Gary. I saw a television program about the California program not long ago and gathered, although I might be "off" on this, that the treatment had to be within days of the injury to have any efficacy. Could it really work long after the initial injury? That would be more than fantastic. In the meantime bathrooms ARE prosaic... but necessary

Nice photo of the book. ;-)

Shirley McCann said...

Hi Gary,

A co-worker had a quadriplegic brother who traveled to China for some stem cell therapy. I saw her again the other day and asked about his progress. She said nothing really happened for him in the long run. But I do wonder that if he had been able to have continuous treatment, things might have progressed better for him.