Posted by: Dan | January 10, 2007

Fact Checking the Bush Administration on Stem Cells

Via ThinkProgress:

In Monday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Tony Snow said, “The vast majority of breakthroughs right now, virtually all, have involved those other than embryonic stem cells.”

In fact, however, over the last year there have been a large number of medical breakthroughs involving embryonic stem (ES) cells:

  • June 20, 2006 — CBS reports that ES cells have been used to help paralyzed rats walk.
  • July 5, 2006 — Science Daily reports that ES cells have been used to create T-cells, which could lead to a cure for AIDS.
  • July 11, 2006 — The Guardian reports that ES cells have been used to create sperm that successfully fertilize mouse eggs, which could aid those with infertility.
  • Sept. 21, 2006 — The Washington Post reports that ES cells have been used to slow vision loss in rats.
  • Oct. 23, 2006 — The Washington Post reports that ES cells have been used to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in rats.
  • Oct. 31, 2006 — The New Scientist reports that ES cells have been used to create insulin-secreting cells, which could be used to treat diabetes.
  • Nov. 10, 2006 — Nature reports that ES cells have been used to make a vaccine that protects mice from lung cancer.
  • Nov. 22, 2006 — The New Scientist reports that ES cells have been used to create cardiovascular “precursor” cells, which could be used to treat heart disease.

Embryonic stem cells remain the most promising type of stem cell due to their ability to become any type of cell in the human body.

I don’t really think I need to add anything to that – it says it all.

On the other popular bit of stem cell news – the discovery of SCs in amniotic fluid – there’s some good perspectives to be read at Matthew Nisbet’s Framing Science and Nick Anthis’ The Scientific Activist; and the amniotic stem cell study’s author tells Congress why amniotic work is not a substitute for embryonic stem cell work:

“Some may be interpreting my research as a substitute for the need to pursue other forms of regenerative medicine therapies, such as those involving embryonic stem cells. I disagree with that assertion,” wrote Anthony Atala of Wake Forest University, the author of a study published this week and widely seized upon by opponents of embryonic stem cell research as a more moral option.

Atala and other researchers reported Sunday that the stem cells they drew from amniotic fluid donated by pregnant women hold much the same promise as embryonic stem cells.

In a letter to sponsors of legislation up for a House vote tomorrow, Atala wrote that it was “essential that National Institutes of Health-funded researchers are able to fully pursue embryonic stem cell research as a complement to research into other forms of stem cells.”


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