Stem Cell Politics Roundup

It's time for another look at the damage done to good science by errant politicians, administrators and managers. State funding or not, things would go so much faster if they would all just stand aside; private funding stands idle while politicians and anti-research groups bicker and try to halt medical progress. More importantly, millions continue to suffer and die as cures are delayed.

Stem cell research is, like cancer research, very important in its own right. Looking ahead, however, both fields require a level of understanding of our cellular biochemistry that will prove essential to later attempts to cure aging. Work done now on cancer and stem cells forms the foundation on which serious anti-aging medicine can be built.

Washington House Endorse Stem Cell Research:

The state would permit stem cell research, including the controversial use of embryonic stem cells, and prohibit human cloning under the measure that passed on a 59-36 vote and now heads to the Senate, where a similar bill is awaiting action.

"We have taken a very important step forward for all the people in this state who are hoping for cures, for all the children with diabetes, for all the parents with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's," said Rep. Shay Schual-Berke, D-Normandy Park, the bill sponsor. "It would be immoral and unethical to not take advantage for the living."

Illinois Referendum More Likely:

Last year, the Illinois Senate narrowly defeated a bill that would have provided public funds for this research.

In response, Comptroller Hynes proposed taking this issue to the voters. He is seeking approval for a binding referendum to be placed on the 2006 general election ballot.

Hynes' referendum would create the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute. If approved, the state would issue $1 billion in bonds to pay for stem cell research over the next decade. Bonds would be funded by a 6 percent tax on cosmetic surgery procedures such as facelifts and liposuction.

Harvard Provost Approves Embryonic Research:

In an attempt to find treatments for diseases like juvenile diabetes and Parkinson's disease, University Provost Steven E. Hyman has approved plans for controversial research that would clone human cells to create embryonic stem cells.

The research - which was proposed by co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) and Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences Douglas A. Melton and Harvard biologist Kevin C. Eggan - was quietly approved by Hyman in January.

The approval was not made public until yesterday, when it was reported by The Boston Globe.

A Roundup of Other States:

At a fever pitch in Missouri and just beginning to simmer in Kansas, the battle about the propriety of stem cell research is being waged in state legislatures throughout the country.

Twenty states are considering proposals that would in some way restrict making cloned cells available for research, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

Who is Allowing Stem Cell Research?:

William Hoffman of the University of Minnesota has compiled a map of the countries with the most flexible and permissive policies on embryonic stem cell research. ... In the US, California is singled out because of its Proposition 71 that provides a state constitutional right to pursue stem cell research. It's important to note that permissive stem cell research policies do not necessarily imply scientific leadership; the US, after all, has more genome sequencing centers than any other nation.

While all of this is going on, the threat of Federal legislation to ban this promising research is still present. Various other groups are attempting to block state funding through CIRM in California. It's certainly not too late to write to your elected representatives and tell them to stop blocking progress towards cures for age-related conditions.

Comment Submission

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.