Embryonic Stem Cell Research Not Working as Quickly as Hoped, Scientists Say

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 14, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Not Working as Quickly as Hoped, Scientists Say Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 14, 2006

New Yok, NY (LifeNews.com) — To hear some politicians talk about embryonic stem cell research, it may appear to the general public that cures for most every disease known to man are right around the corner. Instead, it has yet to help a single human patient and scientists say cures may be a very long time in coming, if at all.

Some scientists now don’t see embryonic stem cell research as a top priority and say the science may only be useful in learning more about diseases but not deriving cures for them.

“Many of us feel that for the next few years the most rational way forward is not to try to push cell therapies,” Thomas M. Jessell, a neurobiologist at Columbia University Medical Center, told the New York Times newspaper.

Embryonic stem cells were thought to be the next wave in patient therapy after the success of bone marrow transplants. However, bone marrow transplants are “a special case, but the general applicability of that to any other disorder is a very big step," Jessell said.

Christopher E. Henderson, a neurobiologist at Columbia University Medical Center, says scientists though embryonic stem cell research would produce cures but they have realized it’s not happening like they hoped.

He told the Times, “We all thought cell therapy first, then many of us realized there were a lot of hurdles to be crossed before that."

Dr. Ron McKay, a stem cell researcher at the National Institutes of Health who has previously called embryonic stem cell research a "fairy tale," told the Times that "progress has been mostly incremental."

Dr. Evan Snyder, director of the stem cell program at the Burnham Institute in San Diego, admitted to the Times that scientists thought they could move embryonic stem cell research ahead quickly, but have found out that wasn’t the case.

"We initially hoped we could leapfrog over certain developmental steps," he said. “We are starting to learn that doesn’t always work."