By Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV

At an emotional news conference this week, patients who have benefited from stem cell research and those who benefit from future breakthroughs, pleaded with lawmakers to not pass a bill that would prevent human cloning.

Researchers at the U of M said they have no interest in cloning a human, but the ability to clone human cells is what could lead to cures for crippling diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and rare conditions like EB.

I had never heard of EB until Wednesday when I met 5-year-old Charlie Knuth and his mother, Tricia.

She described how from her birth her son’s skin would slide off, blister and bleed both inside and outside his body.

In pictures from last fall he looks like a burn victim. Then just three months ago, Charlie had an adult stem cell transplant. The results for Charlie (and 20 other children with EB who have had the procedure) have been nothing short of miraculous.

For the first time in his life the blisters and sores are lessening. For the first time in his life Charlie can wear shoes. Tricia Knuth described how before the transplant, she would have to give Charlie baths of bleach and vinegar, poured over his open sores to prevent infection.

At this point I looked around at the news conference and more than one reporter was in tears. Researchers say it was only because of the breakthroughs in embryonic stem cell research that the adult stem cell transplant that has changed Charlie’s life could be possible.

Charlie’s progress in three short months seems miraculous. But it’s not a miracle. It’s science. And it’s science at the U of M that is saving lives and leading to breakthroughs.

While cloning of embryonic stem cells is not happening right now at the ‘U’, someday it might.

The ‘U’ is doing other research with embryonic cells. The reproduction of embryonic cells, according to researchers, is the best and brightest hope for creating therapies that can be tailored to individual patients.

Looking at Charlie Knuth, it’s hard to argue that breakthroughs are happening and someday maybe it will be you or me or our children whose lives may be saved.

Comments (11)
  1. M. Wagner says:

    So… why doesn’t WCCO investigate the flip side? That there are ways to achieve the same ends without embryonic stems cells… That there are ways to achieve the same ends without destroying human life.

    The problem is that these “other ways” (that don’t destroy human life) are a little more complicated and costly, but are proven possible and effective.

    WCCO, you can even contact a local expert in the matter: Father Tad Pacholczyk of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

    1. married to the truth says:

      Lol! Contact the father that touches little boys and then hides it. Yeah! Contact the father that is a so called leader of a religion. A religion that has as many as 46 know different “gods”. This comment is about as bias and stupid as yours was. Make any sense?

      1. Tony Rozycki says:

        From stem cell research to 46 “gods” is too much of a tangent even for me.

        Believe “good” science & “good” religion are compatible however. Tho perhaps the “devil” lurks in the details.

        Would like to see Minnesota remain on the “cutting edge” of medical heathcare breakthroughs & technology. Age 120 or bust!

  2. Victim Du Jour says:

    Stem Cell is turning us into “Night of the Living Dead” Zombies.

  3. Shemp9971 says:

    (Passion Alert) Yeah, I would like to offer my personal observations with regard to the anti-stem cell crowd and their condescending and bureaucratic attitudes. (Sarcasm Alert) It’s obvious that the anti-stem cell crowd doesn’t want anyone to actually get better, healthwise and that only their views have any validity to them whatsoever.

  4. Nick Sacco says:


    This story was great, but there was a follow up interview with a U of M expert on the topic of cloning and stem cell work. Where can I find this?

  5. Jane says:

    This is another example of the predominate USA religion controlling what is enacted into law. This is not a scientific problem, but a religious one. If your belief system does not allow scientific means (example: stem cell research), do not use or benefit from the results. But do not make others suffer because of your bias.

    This is the case of many “social” issues, including women’s comprehensive health care and same sex unions. These issues are not condemned by all religions, but for some reason everyone must follow one belief whether they agree or not.

    Religion needs to be taken out of government, the schools, etc. and individuals be allowed to make their own choices based on what they believe not what is dictated to them.

    1. Tony Rozycki says:

      Jane, do you think some people should be allowed to practice polygamy if they don’t agree with the “predominate religion” on that social issue?

      1. Jane says:

        @Tony – That is a personal choice based on an indivdual’s value system. Is the practice of polygamy, with others knowledge of it, better or worse than the wife/husband and girlfriend/boyfriend,or several girlfriends/boyfriends at the same time? One is rejected by our culture and the other a “wink wink” acceptance in many cases.

        Pedophilia is a crime in USA but we are currently fighting a war in a country where it is an open, accepted practice – Afganistan. Being “a boy” in that culture is something that is sought after to be chosen, but the USA has not, to my knowledge, condenmed or tried to interfere with the practice.

        Acceptance and tolerance of others would be beneficiial in our culture. I do not force others to live by my standards/values and I don’t want them to dictate what I can/cannot do or believe. I do not think one belief system/religion is better or worse than any other. One belief system is currently being forced on this country and that is wrong.

  6. Tony Rozycki says:

    @Jane- I won’t ask about our anti-cannibal and anti-slavery belief systems as they are too far off the subject of cloning and stem cell research! But don’t think all belief systems are necessarily equal. Still curious what is our “one belief system”?

  7. richard says:

    Save some cells in a pitree dish or find cures for this little guys malady? Seems like an easy decision to me.

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