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Thursday, 28 May 2009

A politically incorrect cure for Sickle Cell Anemia

This should be really big news--a painful and often fatal genetic disease can now be rendered symptom-free through a process that has just recently fallen out of political favour. Sickle Cell Anemia, caused by a defective gene carried by millions of people whose ancestors lived in malarial areas areas of the world, is still being 'treated' by killing the patient. There isn't any drug or surgery that can wholly prevent the crippling anemic attacks brought on by a change in temperature or air pressure, but now there's a cure that totally eliminates symptoms of the disease. And it involves the use of adult stem cells.

Proponents of federal stem cell research, from President Obama on down, claim that unless unborn baby parts are harvested for use in treating people who have already been born, many diseases will go uncured. In fact, the opposite is true. Embryonic stem cells have never proved successful at treating any disease, despite the research dollars being thrown at the problem. But adult stem cells--not harvested from a murder victim, but from a living donor--have now succeeded in curing Sickle Cell Anemia.

Sickle Cell Anemia has a dark past. It emerged in mosquito-infested tropical Africa and spread throughout the Mediterranean basin as natural selection weeded out those who didn't carry the gene. It was brought to the United States from the malarial regions of West Africa by slaves who carried the gene for it, but showed no symptoms other than the bizarre resistance to malaria that is only present in those who have the gene but not the disease. The world's leading researcher on the sociological factors of Sickle Cell Anemia, Dr. Felix Konotey-Ahulu, who himself carries the trait, has shown that the practice of polygamy served to further concentrate the gene in the West African population.

There is still no genetic cure for Sickle Cell. But bone-marrow transplant of adult stem cells does hold out the hope of a life lived without the crippling effects of having two defective copies of the hemoglobin gene. And fortunately for them, this technique was developed before President Obama banned the use of federal funds to research adult stem cell therapy.


  1. Clarification on stem cell research funding:


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