The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

17 October 2005

When botulinum isn't enough

"It's the ultimate, death-dealing irony," says Amy Welborn of this:

Britons desperate to halt the ageing process are being injected with the stem cells of aborted foetuses at a clinic that charges £15,000 for a controversial new cosmetic treatment. Despite warnings from biologists in the UK that the process is unproven and could be harmful, dozens of British women have flown to Barbados in the hope that the injections will make them forever young — and possibly even boost their sex drive.

The treatment is also available in Ecuador, Russia and Ukraine, where it was developed by scientists to treat Parkinson's disease and blood disorders. But converts claim that wrinkles can be ironed out and the fresh face of youth restored.

"It is the most natural form of healing there is," said Barnett Suskind, chief executive of the Institute of Regenerative Medicine (IRM) in Barbados. "You think better, sleep better, look better. Your quality of life improves and your libido certainly improves."

And, well, what else are you going to do with an aborted fetus? Squeeze baby oil out of it?

The use of tissue from aborted foetuses has also raised ethical worries. But Mr Suskind said he was "100 per cent sure" the treatment would be available in Britain "within five years". He added that the IRM would publish results of clinical trials in a "highly respected medical journal" by next year, and said the process had been analysed by leading stem-cell biologists in Britain and the United States.

"Ethical worries"? Gee, ya think?

Obligatory Silver Lining: Well, at least they're not embryonic stem cells. Technically.

(Via Andrea Harris.)

Posted at 9:01 AM to Life and/or Death

They can package it as Soylent Green®.

Posted by: McGehee at 11:15 AM on 17 October 2005

Bulgakov, in "Dog's heart", described the process of "grafting of monkey's gland"...

Posted by: Tatyana at 1:03 PM on 17 October 2005

All is vanity, all is vanity. May I suggest contemplating the more graceful view of aging expressed by poet Wendell Berry in "The Wish to be Generous":

All that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man's evil, or dwindle
in its own age. Let the world bring on me
the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
my little light taken from me into the seed
of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
to mystery, and take my stand on the earth
like a tree in a field, passing without haste
or regret toward what will be, my life
a patient willing descent into the grass.

Posted by: vic at 3:00 PM on 17 October 2005

Ugh. It's difficult to understand how anyone could think this is a good idea.

Surveys show most Americans share my position of being both pro-choice and anti-abortion: we think abortions are horrible and a generally bad idea, but in the end, we think it should be the woman's choice as to their necessity. It's far better if she never has to make that choice, hence the same group's support for birth control.

I have difficulty wrapping my mind around anything that could potentially increase the demand for the results of terminating pregnancy, because if you increase the demand, you're going to increase the supply. I know of no segment of the population that wants to encourage more abortions, and yet this will ultimately be what this does.

Posted by: Matt at 3:09 PM on 17 October 2005

OMG. That's is just fucked up. I mean... that's a plot for South Park.

Posted by: aldahlia at 3:32 PM on 17 October 2005

Matt, I think it's a false argument, by analogy with donation of motorists' organs. Have you heard of any cases, let alone increase of said cases of deliberate killing of motorists who signed donation form in order to get his organs? You could argue demand was created in this case, too, by recyclting organs of car accident' victims and allowing those forms to exist.

Posted by: Tatyana at 3:59 PM on 17 October 2005

Killing a motorist, though, requires substantially more effort than killing a fetus; you can't just go to Planned Pontiachood and have some guy in a Grand Am put down so you can take possession of his liver.

Posted by: CGHill at 4:42 PM on 17 October 2005

Planned Pontiachood...


Posted by: Vickie at 4:50 AM on 18 October 2005

More economically speaking, the demand for organs is not one that we can fulfill here in the US via economics laws, because selling of organs is prohibited (as is killing other people to get theirs). Not only that, but you can't grow another kidney or spleen. Women can grow more fetuses, and if desperately poor women are paid good money to do so, economics kicks in. See "prostitution."

I presume that selling fetal tissue you created yourself is similarly proscribed, but we're talking about other countries. If you create a demand for fetal tissue, you create a demand for fetuses. This is why some people who are pro-choice are still uncomfortable with some kinds of stem cell research, though I think the amount of embryonic stem cells that would already be available far exceeds any research demands. If it didn't, the same thing would apply.

Posted by: Matt at 8:43 AM on 18 October 2005

True, Chaz, but it will be offset by greater need for the product on offer and therefore, higher price: what would you rather pay high bucks for, cosmetic surgery or life-saving one?

That's here I would rely on private enterpreneurship for delivery of goods; it might be quite lucrative: consider relatively low expense of getting to the motorists records, filtering one's with forms signed, getting their addresses and buying some sand for the engine (or whatever half-decent mechanic could come up with), have the collector with icepacks at the ready- and voila, you've got yourself pretty cushy retirement.

May be I should start arranging seminars around the country.

Posted by: Tatyana at 8:52 AM on 18 October 2005

I concede that pretty much anything within the laws of physics can be had for the right price, but you know, it's been a long time since I've been to a really good seminar.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:14 AM on 18 October 2005