Rick Weiss of the Washington Post, What Are You Doing?
Rick Weiss writes that documenting "significant misstatements" by Republican thugs is "incendiary":
Clash Over Stem Cell Research Heats Up: Yesterday, in one of the more incendiary volleys, the journal Science published a letter by three researchers documenting apparently significant misstatements made by [David Prentice] a leader in the movement to block the [stem cell] bill.
Shouldn't Rick Weiss be in a different line of work?
And why the weasel word "apparently"?
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
The letter to the journal focused on David A. Prentice, a scientist with the conservative Family Research Council. Prentice has been an adviser to Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) -- a leader in the charge to maintain tight restrictions on the research -- and an "expert source" often cited by opponents of embryonic stem cell research.
Prentice has repeatedly claimed that adult stem cells, which can be retrieved harmlessly from adults, have at least as much medical potential as embryonic cells. He often carries a binder filled with references to scientific papers that he says prove the value of adult stem cells as treatments for at least 65 diseases.
In the letter to Science, however, three researchers went through Prentice's footnoted documentation and concluded that most of his examples are wrong.
"Prentice not only misrepresents existing adult stem cell treatments but also frequently distorts the nature and content of the references he cites," wrote Shane Smith of the Children's Neurobiological Solutions Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif.; William B. Neaves of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo.; and Steven Teitelbaum of Washington University in St. Louis.
For example, they wrote, a study cited by Prentice as evidence that adult stem cells can help patients with testicular cancer is in fact a study that evaluates methods of isolating adult stem cells.
Similarly, a published report that Prentice cites as evidence that adult stem cells can help patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma does not address the medical value of those cells but rather describes the best way to isolate cells from lymphoma patients and grow them in laboratory dishes, the letter said.
And Prentice's reference to the usefulness of adult stem cells for patients with Sandhoff disease -- a rare nerve disorder -- is "a layperson's statement in a newspaper article," the scientists reported.
All told, the scientists concluded, there are only nine diseases that have been proved to respond to treatment with adult stem cells.
"By promoting the falsehood that adult stem cell treatments are already in general use for 65 diseases and injuries, Prentice and those who repeat his claims mislead laypeople and cruelly deceive patients," the scientists wrote.
Prentice, in a brief voice message left for a reporter as he embarked on a trip yesterday, said, "I appreciate them pointing out some of the things . . . that need to be changed and updated." But he accused the letter writers of "mental gymnastics" by focusing narrowly on proven therapies, as opposed to the large number of diseases for which the value of adult stem cells is now being tested.