The sky is not falling on stem cell research

The slice-and-dice strategy that dehumanized mortgage-backed securities trading is now threatening to similarly commandeer regenerative medical ethics. Jeff Jacoby’s statement
is typical of the trend that desensitizes our appreciation of human life and human potential.
He writes: “there is no moral obstacle to using leftover fertility-clinic embryos that would otherwise be discarded for medical research. Nor do I regard a microscopic cluster of cells as a human person entitled to full legal protection.”

Now on the other side of the ethical divide comes Judge Judge Royce Lamberth, who, on behalf of  a few plaintiffs and several other million conscientious people in this nation, decides to throw up the judicial warning flags on untethered embryonic stem cell research,
so that we are not sliding on some slippery slope of  moral morass toward nanosurgical human trafficking by which unchosen potential  persons are being frozen wholesale into an inventory of non-voluntary fetal sacrifice instead of being born into the robust life on  this groovy planet.
So here  come chicken-littleish federally-funded researchers  whining the cassandra blues because the whole unbridled research universe is said to revolve around the totipotent Federal Government with its infinite supply of fiat quantitative easing and perpetual petri-dish cultured NIH funding.
Only a couple days ago, even though I love to listen to the timely and informative discussions on my favorite news-talk source, the Diane Rehm show (August 31st),
I was alarmed to hear Dr. Daley and Mr. Tipton  protesting loudly that the sky is falling on stem cell research because without the feds all our research and stem cell lines are stopped in their nanoscopic tracks.
Not so.
There’s nothing wrong with utilizing a few ethics-bounded parameters to level the funding field so that private investors can maintain an activating enterprise-based support for disease-breaking  medical progress.
Consider, for instance,  the progressive research being done at Geron Corporation.
Their  recent news release reports a few favorable developments in stem cell research:

~”The FDA notification enables Geron to move forward with the world’s first clinical trial of a human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-based therapy in man. The Phase I multi-center trial is designed to establish the safety of GRNOPC1 in patients with “complete” American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale grade A subacute thoracic spinal cord injuries.”

~”Thomas B. Okarma, Ph.D., M.D., Geron’s president and CEO. ‘Our goals for the application of GRNOPC1 in subacute spinal cord injury are unchanged – to achieve restoration of spinal cord function by the injection of hESC-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cells directly into the lesion site of the patient’s injured spinal cord.’ ”

~”GRNOPC1, Geron’s lead hESC-based therapeutic candidate, contains hESC-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cells that have demonstrated remyelinating and nerve growth stimulating properties leading to restoration of function in animal models of acute spinal cord injury (Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 25, 2005).”

That’s good news for people who’ve suffered spinal cord injuries.

The experimental and clinical work being conducted by this one company alone is evidence that privately funded research can contribute greatly to medical improvement. We need not put all our embryos in one federally-funded basket.
Let willing investors, instead of overburdened taxpayers, take the risk on some of this experimentation. Require  the feds to play by tighter ethical rules so that our developing standard regenerative procedures are founded (and funded!) on solid human rights practice. Furthermore, we can spread the money more equitably to better facilitate adult stem cell, and induced pluripotent adult stem cell, research.



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