Embryonic stem cell research.
The issue also produced one of the cycle’s most memorable commercial.
Actor Michael J. Fox, shaking badly from Parkinson’s disease, started directly into a camera then asking for help in promoting embryonic stem cell research, which he and other think may help lead to a cure, for people who suffer from the disease.
“In Missouri you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hopes for cures,” Fox said in the commercial.
“I’m proud of the work that’s being done in Missouri in terms of this important research,” said McCaskill Thursday night during the debate, “and I think it is important that it continue.”
Her Republican rival, Rep. Todd Akin, said he supports stem cell research. There is a difference.
“There is the embryonic stem cell part, which I don’t support,” Akin said Thursday.
The conservative Congressman says stem cell research, “is just phenomenal”.
Akin, however, believes that life starts at the instant of conception.
Embryonic stem cell opponents, like Akin, think the use of discarded embryos in stem cell research destroy an unborn life.
He thinks stem cell research can progress without destroying embryos.
“There was just a major breakthrough last week that showed you don’t even need the embryonic because they found a way to make the cells, what they call ‘plastic’.
Akin is not referring to artificial cells made of plastic.
In this contest, the scientific community uses the word ‘plastic’ to mean anything can be made of anything.
When someone refers to a cell being ‘plastic’ they are saying the cell has the versatility to be converted for other purposes in the body. A ew cell to help the heart, or a vein or any other part of the body needing repair.
Akin may be referring to a new scientific claim. A research team at Weill Cornell Medical College claims they think amniotic fluids taken from a pregnant women, with her permission midway thru her pregnancy, provides an alternative.
The researchers say they have discovered a way the cells from the fluid can be triggered in the laboratory to be converted to another use.
Professor Kenneth Peterson of the University of Kansas School of Medicine is not so sure.
“The evidence is still out,” said Peterson in an interview with KMBC TV.
Peterson takes issue with another statement Akin made on the issue during the debate.
“You can take an adult cell and make it do any kind of function of another cell,” Akin stated.
“Adult stem cells is a misleading term. In science, an adult cell is one that has matured. it does not refer to a cell in a human over the age of 21.
Newborn babies can have adult cells, cells that are developed, and mature.
Peterson also challenged Akin’s claim there is no longer a need for embryonic stem cell research.
He says some adult cells that seem to be able to replicate an embryonic cell’s ability to adapt, have not been researched completely. Peterson believes more discovery into the mysteries of embryonic stems cells, altered matured cells and other potential alternatives still need to be explored.