Journal of Neuroscience Research Volume 69 Issue 6 - Foreword by Christopher Reeve - August 27, 2002
Journal of Neuroscience Research
Volume 69, Issue 6, 2002. Pages: 697
(Special Issue: Stem Cells. Issue Edited by Hideyuki Okano.)
Published Online: 27 Aug 2002
Christopher Reeve *
Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, Springfield, New Jersey
*Correspondence to Christopher Reeve:
Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation,
500 Morris Avenue,
Springfield, NJ 07081
As one of the one hundred million Americans who suffer from serious or currently incurable conditions, I place tremendous hope in embryonic and adult stem cell research and somatic cell nuclear transplantation (therapeutic cloning), and hold those who have chosen these areas of scientific pursuit in high regard. I am a ventilator-dependent C-2 tetraplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down and unable to breathe on my own. For the last seven years I have not been able to eat, wash, go to the bathroom, or get dressed by myself. Some people are able to accept living with a severe disability. I am not one of them. That is why I have a keen interest in research and consider the promotion of responsible and ethical stem cell research and therapeutic cloning a matter of great urgency.
Human pluripotent stem cells offer remarkable therapeutic promise. They have the capacity to become any cell or tissue type in the body without developing into a human being. They are immortal and seem to be able to divide without limitation. And they can be genetically manipulated, which gives them enormous curative utility.
Therapeutic cloning offers a viable way around the profound challenge of immune rejection encountered in human embryonic stem cell transplantation because it can produce stem cells with genetic material identical to that of the patient. Somatic cell nuclear transplantation uses unfertilized eggs in which the nuclei are removed and replaced with patients' own DNA. It is also a powerful tool of modern forensic science, vaccine development and drug discovery and testing. Therapeutic cloning does not destroy nor does it attempt to create human life.
Although there are other scientific approaches at this time, none are as promising as therapeutic cloning. While many governments wrestle with the morality of embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning, the suffering continues. One hundred million Americans and countless others around the world agonize as politicians juggle life-and-death issues. Scientists who have dedicated their lives to these studies are forced to tread risky waters, not knowing if they will receive adequate funding or if their work will be banned and even criminalized. Young researchers beginning their careers may understandably choose to pursue less controversial fields of inquiry.
The scientists who have contributed articles to this distinguished journal are pioneers and heroes for all of us who turn to them for guidance and inspiration. We admire their courage; we applaud their efforts and the personal sacrifices they have made. Now we implore them to remain focused on the ultimate goalĘ-Ębona fide cures.
CHRISTOPHER REEVE has established a reputation as one of America's leading actors, and since he was paralyzed in an equestrian competition in 1995, he has put a human face on spinal cord injury. Reeve is chairman of the board of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation (CRPF) and vice chairman of the National Organization on Disability and lobbies vigorously for healthcare reform and funding of research. He is the author of the best selling book Still Me and lives in upstate New York with his wife, Dana, and their children.