One of the most puzzling questions regarding stem cell research has been: why are researchers so hungry for embryonic stem cells, despite the controversy and dangers over their use, and at the same time, seem to be shunning non-controversial and much more successful adult stem cells? MP Paul Szabo, the resident expert on the matter in the Canadian House of Commons, posited an answer during the debate on the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, Bill C-13.
Quoting Dr. François Pothier, who has a Phd in cellular biology and is a professor at Laval University, Szabo said that the answer is, “There is no money in adult stem cell research.” Adult stem cells usually come from within the patient’s own body and thus need not be purchased as would embryonic stem cells. Moreover, the use of embryonic stem cells would leave the patient dependent on costly anti-rejection drugs, whereas adult stem cells coming from the patient do not require such ongoing medications.
Szabo was outraged that researchers, with a pecuniary interest in embryonic stem cell research, would be allowed to sit on the board of the agency created to oversee such research. Szabo points out that the agency would have the authority to issue a licence to authorize the use of human embryos for the purpose of research only if it is satisfied that the use is “necessary” for the purpose of the proposed research.