Pushing Stem Cells

The Democratically controlled congress has just passed a bill that would relax federal restrictions on funding stem cell research, despite not having the votes to override a certain veto from the White House.

It’s an interesting moral dilemma, I believe, because I find it interesting that it IS a moral dilemma. It’s not like we’re granting scientists legal authority to steal embryos in the night, or even offering up embryo donation as an alternative to adoption or abortion. we’re talking about basically embryos that would be destroyed anyway, so where’s the foul? I seriously don’t get it.

Meanwhile, we’re kinda waisting time, time that could be spent on research that could actually start producing cures to spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc. Understand that beginning stem cell research right now won’t result in cures tomorrow, it’ll take time. Time that we are waisting.

Which is the same context from which we have to regard a recent story that critics of the bill are using as part of the ammo in saying stem cell research isn’t needed. This being, of course, the recent breakthrough where scientists have been able to get Mice skin cells to ACT like stem cells. What you have to keep in mind is that this is not an overnight replacement of stem cell research.

In fact, to replace any hopes of stem cell research with the mice skin could put any fruitful advances in the technology behind by years, perhaps decades. This is because you would first have to continue the research to make it viable in the human arena first, which will undoubtedly take a good deal of time, and THEN you have to begin the research we’re ready to start now with stem cells.

This is not an attempt, of course, to minimalize the importance of the mice breakthrough. It’s huge and laudable, but still a very long time from being usable for our purposes. As pointed out in the first article, some believe that it’s a slippery slope issue, that once breakthroughs are actually made in stem cell research, that the demand will go up, and potential babies will be lost, then, but I think what the common ground here is to increase funding for both of these areas.

Let’s learn with the stem cells, and hopefully by the time we know what we are doing, the skin cell trick will be compatible with the Human physiology, and we can apply what we learned from the former to the latter.

In any case, it’s just silly Bush is vetoing this, and one more reason why I can’t wait until January 2009.

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