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Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Thursday, May 31, 2012



I have updated my recent article on the Cristiada.  As I continued to research it, I realized I left out some pertinent information and was careless in some of my phrasing.  Also, I recently received an email with some updated information regarding my Embryonic Stem Cell Research post.  It doesn’t change the point of the post, but provides useful clarification.  Please see the email below and feel free to email me any useful information that can help clarify or update anything posted on this blog.  God bless!
First of all, I wanted to say that for the most part I thought the piece you submitted was well done. As I was reading through it I noticed a couple things that could probably be clarified, so I thought I would share in case you ever have an opportunity to use this piece again.

In the piece you wrote:

Why better? Because with adult stem cells, a donor can donate to himself. Why is this important? Because it eliminates the risk of rejection by the recipient and negates the need for immune-suppression.

While I cannot speak for all types of stem-cell therapies, in the case of therapies for cancers such as lymphoma stem-cell transplants do actually carry a risk of rejection. GVHD (Graft-Vs-Host Disease) still occurs, even for people who undergo an autologous (i.e., their own) transplant. In the cases where the transplant is syngeneic (from an identical twin) the rejection risk is supposedly non-existent, but there are at least 3 documented cases where rejection still occurred. (I am one of them.) Even with identical DNA there can be discrepencies on the RNA or protein level.

Also in the case of stem-cell transplants for lymphoma patients (as well as leukemia and multiple-myaloma) immuno-suppression is a must prior to the transplant and subsequent to it for varying amounts of time to avoid severe GVHD.

In another place you wrote:

Embryonic stem cells also have a nasty little habit of forming tumors, which adult stem cells do not (Stem Cells, November 2005).

Again, while I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of this information as far as other types of therapies are concerned, in regards to stem cell transplants for lymphoma the transplanted stem cells do have a potential to form secondary cancers such as leukemia. With lymphoma patients it works out to something like 2.5%. It's probably difficult to properly discern the numbers since this sort of therapy is almost always accompanied by high-dose chemotherapy or total body irradiation.