Published: 11th April 2007
The Christian Medical Fellowship has welcomed today's report that Brazilian and US scientists have used transfusions of patients' own stem cells to reverse type I diabetes.
'This new stem cell research is an encouraging step forward in the treatment of a common and serious illness and raises hopes for a future breakthrough', said CMF General Secretary Peter Saunders. 'However we do need to be cautious. This was a small study with limited follow up in patients with early diabetes and the mechanism by which the stem cells brought improvement is still unclear. Was it by stopping the body's immune rejection of its insulin producing cells, or through producing new insulin producing cells? We don't yet know. More research is needed but stem cells may well have a part in treating type 1 diabetes in the future.'
'However we also need to be very clear that it was adult stem cells and not embryonic stem cells that were used in this study. Adult stem cells, which can be derived from blood and bone marrow, are ethically non-controversial and have so far been used in treating over a hundred different illnesses in humans. By contrast embryonic stem cells, which are those being currently promoted by the UK government and biotechnology industry, have not so far yielded a single successful treatment for human disease.'
'The use of embryonic stem cells, cloned or otherwise, to treat disease remains unproven, and may well be unsafe and unnecessary. It is also regarded by many as unethical because harvesting embryonic stem cells involves creating and destroying human embryos. The end of developing new treatments, does not justify the means of destroying early human life in the process.'
'So whilst welcoming this new development we also need to be very cautions of media and government and media spin, such as that evident in this morning's Times newspaper, attempting to use reports of successful adult stem cell treatments to justify research using embryonic stem cells.'
Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668
Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.
CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.