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No proof of concept for cures from embryo stem cells
8 October 2002

Evidence from the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee's inquiry into the Research Involving Embryos and Prohibition of Human Cloning Bill 2002, has called into question whether the cures used to sell this legislation to Parliamentarians can actually be realised.

A number of senior eminent scientists have pointed out there is no scientific 'proof of concept' that stem cells derived by destroying human embryos can cure all the conditions that have been cited in debate ie. Alzheimer's, Diabetes, Parkinson's, Motor Neurone Disease, Spinal Cord Paralysis, MS and Muscular Dystrophies.

University of Melbourne Emeritus Professor John Martin pointed out that a proof of concept would include answers to three important questions:

(i)    evidence from animal experiments in each of the diseases, that prolonged therapeutic benefit can be obtained by treatment with the appropriate animal ES [embryonic stem] cells;
(ii)    establishing through animal experimentation that the immune rejection problems can be overcome.
(iii)    elimination of the complication of tumour development when ES cells are transplanted. (Submission 162)

These questions have not been answered. How can the Australian Parliament approve a broad range of destructive research on human embryos, including drug testing on live human embryos, largely on discredited claims that embryonic stem cells hold promise of cures for desperate people?

A fact sheet with detailed quotes from the scientists concerned is available here.

Issued: 8 October 2002

Contact: Mary Joseph, spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, telephone 02 6253 3100.