Stem Cell Research Gets a Reprieve
Published: January 20, 2013
The Supreme Court has wisely ended a bizarre and destructive lawsuit to prevent the federal government from financing embryonic stem cell research. By refusing to hear the case, the court put a halt to more than three years of turmoil that drove some scientists away from such research because of uncertainty about its legality and questions about continued federal funding.
Scientists study stem cells to analyze cell development and to explore ways that stem cells might repair or replace damaged tissues associated with such devastating ailments as spinal cord injuries, diabetes and Parkinson’s. Most of the stem cells used in such research have been derived from days-old human embryos through a process that destroys the embryos and is strongly opposed by many religious and social conservatives.
Although federal law since 1996 has prohibited federal financing of research that destroys an embryo, the Obama administration, like the Clinton administration before it, concluded that if stem cells were derived (and embryos destroyed) with private or state money, federal money could support subsequent research. Rules issued by the Obama administration were challenged in court by two researchers who work on adult stem cells; they contended that no research could get taxpayer money if it depended on an embryo having been destroyed at some point.
After conflicting lower court rulings, a federal appeals court dismissed the case, saying the administration’s reading of the law was permissible. And now the Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal. In recent years, scientists have increasingly turned to a form of stem cell that can be derived without killing or harming embryos, a trend that was probably accelerated by the litigation over embryonic stem cells, but they will still need the embryonic cells for many purposes.
President Obama’s stem cell policies were established by executive order and could be overturned by executive order in any subsequent administration. At a minimum, Congress should codify the administration’s guidelines into law. Better yet, Congress should lift virtually all restrictions on this promising area of research.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
The NY Times fails to give complete details: The embyonic lines (numbering 30 or so) that were and are being used are the ones approved and consist of used embryos developed in-vitro AND were destined to be trashed (thrown away and or destroyed) any how! The religious zealots were not told this by the anti-hESC (human embryonic stem cells) handlers (reserachers and businesses investing their efforts and monies in adult stem-cells). After extensive studies, however, in a scietific conference a few years ago where the top guys from NIH and FDA discussed the matter, it was concluded that the hESC-based pluripotent/differentiated stem cells will remain a "gold" standard for all stem-cells, including those developed from the adult stem cells! This has been recognized by knowledgeable scientists and has been announced so, yet those vested interests have been brainwashing public and the hard-core RRs who are making unnecessary noise. The Supreme Court is perhaps fully aware of this and therefore, apparently, has thrown out the appeal. These facts must be loudly advertised so that the true RRs can understand the whole matter and withdraw their unnecessary opposition.
Yes, there is one more thing I like to mention here: The EU court made a decision a couple of years ago that any reserach work or treatment technique based on hESC can not be patented because, per EU and per my understanding, it would be a natural outcome and hence not patentable!! (This is my understanding.) For this reason, Geron management felt that some its patents will be challenged by outfits in EU, loosing its revenue based on those patents. This is perhaps one of the reasons, besides its financial difficulty and either the force of assault by the adult-stem-cell interests or developing genomic studies, the company decided to divest almost all of its stem-cell portfolio.
All that stands in our way is the Cristio Fascist contards, who are quickly loosing their low life support base. Obama neglected Stem Cells & the environment last go around, hopefully this time both are front and center.
Good post Info. Lars, it's taken a long time to stop the runaway freight train of failure left by 8 years of the Bush administration and damn near 20 years of GOP control of Congress, especially when you've got the GOP controlled house putting oil on the runaway train's brakes. The next 4 years should be, and hopefully will be the mandate President Obama needs to get some of these other issues dealt with. You can almost see it now as the right wingnuts are already plotting and scheming ways to throw a wrench into any progress for a positive future. They just don't get it, they lost, the majority don't want them and in spite of their voter suppression efforts and redistricting, they still LOST. They had to steal the elections for Bush 2 times, they tried this time and finally they've been met with resistance from WE THE PEOPLE. Corporate America as represented by the Republican party can no longer but a chokeehold on the American People. President Obama is not perfect, but he has the majority in his mind and heart and that is what guides him not corporate greed. The racist right minority LOST.