An Infrequent Stem Cell Research and Politics Update

Since I'm paying less attention to stem cell research at Fight Aging! these days, I feel it's worth reminding folks that other blogs - such as Today's Stem Cell Research and Hype and Hope - keep up a regular patter of postings. But onwards; recent good news from Korea may, if we're lucky, cause productive ripples in restrictive Western stem cell politics:

Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology comments that the researchers "have demonstrated that therapeutic cloning can work in a medically useful way. Prior to this study, there was a question as to whether it was biologically possible. ... The answer is yes, it works. And they did it in a dramatic way - they used therapeutic cloning to derive stem cells that genetically matched patients who had real diseases that could be treated using this technology."

Ronald Bailey put out a piece for Tech Central Station in a very short period of time - it hits many of the points I was considering for this post:

The Korean researchers allowed the stem cells to differentiate into various cell types including skin, nerve, kidney and muscle cells. The stem cells produced by Hwang and his team are immunological matches for specific patients, and that means that if they were transplanted that they would not cause immune rejection. While this research is a tremendous breakthrough, the researchers hasten to point out that it is too early to consider actually transplanting the cells into patients. First, because some of the cloned stem cell lines carry the defective genes that led to diabetes and immunodeficiency disease. Second, because researchers still have to learn how to safely and stably transform stem cells into specific cell types, say, pancreatic islet cells to treat diabetes.

...

The House of Representatives has twice voted to criminalize precisely this research, proposing to toss therapeutic cloning researchers into prison for up to ten years and fine them one million dollars. In fact, if this effort to criminalize research on cloned human stem cells were to succeed, Americans who go abroad to seek cloned stem cell treatments, say, to cure their diabetes, could be jailed for up to ten years for illegally "importing" cloned stem cells. The Bush Administration was also pushing the United Nations to adopt a treaty to outlaw both cloning to produce transplants and reproductive cloning.

Some of the most promising research into cures for age-related conditions has been held back and underfunded for years in the US. But regular readers know this already; much of the recent news regarding stem cell research has been nothing but politics. It is a great pity that we live in a society that places so little value on individual responsibility, freedom and choice, especially in those areas of human endeavor where the most good could be accomplished. Centralization and socialization of medicine are terrible things; why do we allow the uninformed and unskilled to squander resources and hold life and death decisions over our heads?

The bottom line: politicized medical research is slower, less effective, less efficient medical research. The slower it goes, the more likely you are to suffer and die from an age-related condition that might otherwise have been cured. The slower it goes, the less likely we are to make serious progress towards a cure for the aging process itself. Politicians can do nothing but destroy and delay; they should leave well alone - let those who are willing to work put their talents, unhindered, towards creating longer, healthier lives for all.

Comments

Sen. Chris Smith (RN.J.) was on CNN today shouting over top of his Dem counterpart desperately pushing the Cord Blood Stem Cell Act of 2005 (S. 681).

http://tinyurl.com/a27e7

He was full of disinformation and lies. He contended that Adult Stem Cells were better than Embryonic and that Cord Blood was also a viable option. When his counterpart tried explaining his errors Smith belligerently and frantically tried to repeatedly butt in. He kept talking over the other's dialogue and it became very disruptive.

He totally overlooks or maybe is unaware that for one thing, as far as I know, cord blood stem cell therapies would cause immunological rejection for anyone not closely related to the infant donor. The parents might be a match to the cord blood of a new born, that new born is obviously and more likely than the parents, maybe, would be the infant's siblings.

At bottom what he is proposing whether aware of it or not, since he wants this to be the only option and to supplant Embryonic SCR, is that people would have to create children just for cures. "We created you special Timmy in order to save your father's life but we love you just as much as your grown sister that we conceived in love." To me this is reprehensible.

For anyone reading this that may be still on the fence trying to decide for yourself the moral dilemma, "Is extracting stem cells from an engineered blastocyst, not a sperm and egg conceived embryo, really murder or not?", because some wish to blur the lines with obscure unscientific emotional notions like engineered blastocysts are "potential humans", then you need to see this video of a lecture by Dr. Lee M. Silver:

http://tinyurl.com/am9dz

Please note carefully the subject of and fate of the 61 differentiated stem cells vursus the separated 3 of a total of 64 in day 7 of division, then wonder about some people's priorities. Shower anyone?

"Centralization and socialization of medicine are terrible things". Ironically Reason the people most accused of socializing medicine, the Dems, are the ones most in favor of our *actually having the freedom* to do Embryonic Stem Cell Research and form cures from Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, also called Therapeutic Cloning and misleadingly just Cloning by its foes. Go figure, huh.

In my case I'll take it any way I get it, socialized or not. The other side is politicizing enough without our waging in on these esoteric issues. I agree with Aubrey, when SENS becomes available and SCR is bound to be one component, it will have to take governments to fund it for everyone due to the absolute and immediate and widespread demand or chaos will ensue. I guess that will be the ultimate socialized medicine.

FutureQ

Posted by: FutureQ at May 20th, 2005 6:36 PM

Isn't it true that George Bush senior and Ronald Reagan both banned fetal cell research? Perhaps research could have been much further ahead if it had received support - rather than obsticles. These obstructionists could pay a heavy price when they get a disease (Reagan) that could be cured with new science.

Posted by: John De Herrera at May 25th, 2005 11:48 AM

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