Monday, March 27, 2006

Open Letter to Michael Fumento

Michael Fumento wants his readers to think adult stem cell research (ASCR) is the underdog soooooo badly, it is almost cute. He needs ASCR to be the underdog, of course, to create the illusion that those of us who support embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) are the enemies of ASCR - then he can paint us as trying to hide ASCR successes and steal government funding for ASCR - you know, it is that whole "don't have an enemy? need one? what are you waiting for? create one!"

The reality, of course, is that supporters of ESCR are neither stealing government funding away fron ASCR, nor are we hiding ASCRs successes - many of us would stand to benefit from any ASCR gains - does he think we are nuts? No, of course he doesn't. He just wants the rest of the world to think we are.

However, as I once heard someone say, read it and weep, Mr. Fumento. You know the answers to the questions below as well as I do, so step up to the truth, if you dare. [answers provided by anuket 7/29/06]
Hi Michael,

My name is Anuket, and I have some questions about the stem cell issue that I wonder if you would answer publicly so that others can be enlightened, as well. I guess I will just list them.

  1. How much funding has adult stem cell research (ASCR) received from the federal government since 2003, and how much is it budgeted to receive by the end of 2007?

    2003 to 2005 actual: $593M
    2006 to 2007 budgeted: $400M

    TOTAL PROJECTED 2003 to 2007: $993M

  2. How much funding has embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) received from the federal government since 2003, and how much is it budgeted to receive by the end of 2007?

    2003 to 2005 actual: $84M
    2006 to 2007 budgeted: $77M

    TOTAL PROJECTED 2003 to 2007: $161M

    Numbers taken from the NIH table of Disease Funding Levels

  3. What did Clinton do about ESCR? Did he fund any? Did he do anything?

    On August 25, 2000, the Clinton Administration's NIH Guidelines for Research Using Human Pluripotent Stem Cells were printed in the Federal Register [Page 51975], lifting the moratorium on research using human pluripotent stem cells derived from human embryos and fetal tissue put in place by the Director, NIH, in January, 1999. These guidelines authorized federal funding for research utilizing ESCs that were derived from embryos donated by people undergoing IVF. The actual derivation of the ESCs would have to be done using private funding, but once the cell line was created, researchers could obtain NIH funding to work with them.

    The first meeting of the NIH committee charge with reviewing grant applications for ESC research was scheduled for April, 2001. Bush took office in January of 2001 and ordered that the Clinton policy be reviewed - the April meeting was cancelled.

    In August of 2001, Bush announced the current policy.

  4. How long has human ASCR been going on?

    The first studies utilizing human ASCs listed in Pubmed are in the early to mid-60s, depending on the search term used (stem cells, adult stem cells, bone marrow transplant), so human ASCR has been underway for a minimum of 40 years.

  5. How long has human ESCR been going on?

    Human embryonic stem cells were first isolated in 1998, so human ESCR has been underway for about seven years.

  6. On the list of diseases being treated with ASCs that you link to:

    • How many of these diseases are diseases of the blood, or the immune system, or metabolic disorders?

    • How many of these treatments consist of bone marrow transplants?

    • Would you define "treat" for me? Do you mean an ASC therapy was tried in a clinical trial and seemed to have a positive outcome, but the therapy is not yet approved by the FDA and available to us, or do you mean a therapy that has been approved by the FDA and is readily available to us?

    • How many of the diseases listed are neurological in nature?

    • How many types of adult stem cells are currently being used in therapies that have been approved by the FDA and are available to patients today?

    • My random sampling of 7 disease turned up 2 that, according to NIH, are not being treated with ASCs - how many of these diseases are actually not being treated with ASCs?

  7. How long do you estimate it takes, on average, with a new idea for a therapy, to get from the lab, through animal trials, to the first human clinical trial?

  8. The embryos in question - the ones that we are talking about when we say ESCR - who donates them to research?

    People undergoing IVF donate them to research.

  9. Should the people who donate them to research have the right to do that?

  10. Do you oppose IVF?

Thank you for your time and I look forward to reading your response, and I hope you will post the answers to these questions on your site.

(I am calling this an open letter but am not sure it really is one, since I already sent these questions to Mr. Fumento privately, asking him to answer them publicly. He declined to answer them at all.)


Michael Fumento said...

I have 29 pieces on stem cells on my website. Why don't you bother to read them. No matter how self-important you think you are, I disagree.

Anonymous said...

I have about 100 posts from blogs where people are furious with Fumento for his psychotic, mean personal attacks on many people and many subjects. His latest is to promote the false impression that ASCs are curing Parkinson's and other diseases. We who have Parkinson's know this is untrue. one could have sympathy for this sociopath if his lies weren't so dangerous to the health of sick people.

anuket said...

You are very funny, Michael, suggesting that I think I am self important. Ah yes, that is why I keep my identity secret - self importance. Now, if I had a domain bearing my own name, a subhead in which I called myself original, powerful and iconoclastic, a big photograph of myself front and center, a biography to satisfy my curious public, and countless references to myself as "best-selling author anuket" - *that* wouldn't be self important, now, would it? Of course not.

Thank you for the tip about your 29 pieces - I thought I had seen most of what you had written already. I will make you a proposition - I will read every one of your stem cell pieces if you will agree to either answer the questions I have already posed or address publicly my comments on...let's say three of them. I will happily address any comments you have about what I have written, as well.

I am ready when you are.

Anonymous said...

Michael Fumento is a coward who will never answer your questions because to do so would reveal the flimsy, almost non-existent nature of his "arguments". He is not searching for truth but for more victims to attempt to villify with his incoherent ramblings.

bmmg39 said...

Anonymous, no one has claimed that ASCs are "curing" Parkinson's and other diseases. They are successfully TREATING people with those diseases, something ESCs have yet to do for even one human patient. By the way, Anuket, HUMAN ESCs were only isolated in 1998, but non-human ones have been studied and experimented on for decades. You can't complain about a so-called head start.