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Monday, November 2, 2009
WND Hides Details on Fetal-Cell Skin Cream
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 28 WorldNetDaily article by Drew Zahn regurgitates a press release by the anti-abortion group Children of God for Life claiming that a company's anti-aging skin creams "were developed from the tissues of an aborted baby." But Zahn makes no effort to go beyond the press release's claims beyond attempting to contact the company making the cream. If he had, he would have learned there's much more to the story.

For instance, there's no mention of the original journal report on the Swiss-based research that apparently led to creation of the cream (a link to which Children of God for Life includes in its press release). That report, from the journal Experimental Gerontology, describes fetal cells as having "a high potential for the treatment of acute and chronic wounds of the skin in humans," with a specific focus on leg ulcers. CoGfL does not state a position on fetal cell-based treatments used to heal chronic skin wounds.

Since CoGfL and WND didn't see fit to quote the journal report, there's no mention of the fact that not only does the report state that the fetal sample was obtained "with informed and written consent and approval from the local Medical School Ethics Committee, the report has a section that discusses the "Ethical aspects of working with human fetal cells":

Although there is a high medical support for developing cellular based therapies to reach as many patients as possible, there exists a governing political controversy. Scientists and medical doctors have used fetal tissue since the 1930’s as a means to understand cell biology and as an essential tool in the development of vaccines. The 1954 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to immunologists who developed the polio vaccine using cultures of human fetal kidney cells. The drastic change in the political environment changed in 1988 when scientists began using fresh fetal tissue and cells for transplantation into patients with Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, the Reagan administration (US government) declared a moratorium on all federal funding for fetal tissue research. Advances for fetal cell research were then left only to the ‘‘private sector” where there is no medical peer-review of adapted therapies. Indeed, if research on whole-cell bio-processing of many fetal tissues could have continued, there certainly would have been advances in the amount of tissue necessary for developing efficient therapies (such as with fetal skin where only one organ donation is necessary to allow for cellular expansion to develop over 900 million fetal skin constructs). In Switzerland and most countries, the fetal skin is considered as an organ donation by law. This process is highly regulated including federal approval for tissue biopsy, stocking and transplantation and ethics committee approval of the procedure and all information for the donor.

Further, neither CoGfL nore Zahn explain that Neocutis, the company selling the cream, is a miniscule player; Zahn hints at it by stating the company has "estimated annual sales of in excess of $2 million." In a beauty-products industry with more than $20 billion in sales, that's barely a ripple.

And as one review of the company notes (and the company's website confirms), Neocutis products are available only through a physician, so it's not like one can run down to Macy's and pick up a tube. The review also points out that Neocutis was "founded in 2003 as a spin off from the medical school of the University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland," and the company's focus is "wound healing, dermatology and skin care."

So, far from CoGfL's claim that the Neocutis is motivated by "pure vanity," the requirement of going through a physician to obtain the products indicates that Neocutis has other things on its mind. Too bad CoGfL and Zahn couldn't be bothered to mention that.

(Thanks to an alert ConWebWatch reader for the heads-up.)

Posted by Terry K. at 12:43 AM EST

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