• Review: The God Cells (2016)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Sat May 28 09:28:59 2016
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: THE GOD CELLS surveys the contentious debate on
    the value of fetal stem cells in treating serious illness
    and it plants its feet clearly and unambiguously on one
    side of the debate. Eric Merola was so impressed with
    the results he got with stem cell treatment that he wrote
    and directed this monument to the treatment. If stem
    cell therapy is as good as he says, one wonders why we
    are not hearing more about it from the rest of the world
    where, unlike in the United States, the therapy is
    legal. I cannot evaluate the medical claims Merola makes
    but they are a little too extravagant to be taken at face
    value. Rating: 0 (-4 to +4) or 4/10

    First the basics: What is a stem cell? Every cell in a human came
    from a stem cell. It is basically the raw material from which all
    the different kinds of cells descend. All the cells of a multi-
    cell organism had their origin as stem cells. The fetus of a child
    has a multitude of stem cells, more than are needed by the baby.
    These cells are present in the early period of a fetus, but they
    are material that does not get used in the making of the baby. In
    the process of aborting a baby these cells that would not have
    become baby are discarded as medical waste as if they had no value.
    These cells can, however, be collected and used to create in a
    laboratory (in vitro) many other kinds of cells that would be
    useful in medicine, but almost always they are discarded. This
    question of whether to use the cells gives rise to religious,
    ethical, and social issues. It is considered an unnatural use of
    human fetuses. The concerns have to be weighed against the
    potential these cells would have to save and restore human life.
    There is a question of the ethics of using biological material
    taken from human fetuses to save or improve other people's lives.
    Eric Merola wrote and directed THE GOD CELLS, a documentary
    examining the controversy stemming from the controversy of stem
    cell research.

    This is partly a startling documentary and part a hard sell on the
    medical benefits of fetal stem cell treatment for, well, just about
    anything that needs fixing. Apparently stem cells injected in a
    patient will find what needs to be repaired and will go there. THE
    GOD CELLS starts with testimonials of people helped or virtually
    cured from very bad diseases like cystic fibrosis and by the end of
    the film it is presenting the view that the treatment is good for
    just about whatever ails you. In addition to the case histories of
    near miraculous cures we get a short account of what fetal stem
    cells are, the controversy surrounding the treatment and big
    business's war against advocacy of the treatment. And always there
    is the return to covering patients relating miraculous case
    histories. As an odd touch nearly every case history seems to
    document a return not just to vigor in general but to a favorite
    sport in particular. Frequently the patient is now championship
    level at the sport.

    Much of the film involves the legal status of the fetal stem cell
    therapy. Patients from the United States who want the treatment
    find they have to go to another country to get it. Fetal stem cell
    therapy, as powerful as it seems, is currently illegal on US soil.
    Americans who want the treatment must go to Mexico or Canada. This
    we are told is the result of a conspiracy led by the Food and Drug Administration at the behest of Big Pharmaceutical Corporations.

    One point that should have been covered in the film and was not was
    what is happening in Canada. In Canada stem cell therapy is legal
    and by the evidence given it should really be taking that country's
    medical environment by storm. That does not appear to be
    happening. Why are we not hearing more about the popularity and
    success of the treatment in Canada? In the end writer/director
    Eric Merola reminds the audience that at times the treatment helps
    little or not at all. We see no statistics. This documentary is
    just the enthusiastic account of Merola who had had the treatment
    and wanted to share his good news. He may well be right about the
    importance of this medical treatment. His film is a little hard to
    believe without more corroboration. THE GOD CELLS, with its
    flamboyant title, is just a bit too fervent to be easily
    distinguished from pseudo-science. I rate THE GOD CELLS a 0 on the
    -4 to +4 scale scale or 4/10. THE GOD CELLS opens to limited
    release in New York on June 3 and in Los Angeles on June 10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying: <http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_god_cells/?search=god%20cells>

    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper

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