Misleading Biotech Firm to Present at National Academy of Sciences

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 7, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Misleading Biotech Firm to Present at National Academy of Sciences Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 7
, 2006

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The leading scientist at a biotech firm that misled the world about a supposedly ethical method of obtaining embryonic stem cells will be making a key presentation at the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Robert Lanza, a vice president at the California-based Advanced Cell Technology will present before the NAS at a special meeting to explore the latest developments in embryonic stem cell science and policy.

In September, ACT claimed to have created a new method of obtaining embryonic stem cells without destroying human life. It said in a press release that none of the sixteen human embryos used in the experiments were destroyed even though all were killed.

Lanza will make his presentation at the NAS’s meeting of the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee, scheduled for November 7-8 in Washington.

During the meeting, Lanza will tout the company’s new method and continued false claims that it provides for obtaining embryonic stem cells without destroying human life — the main objection pro-life advocates have to the research.

“We believe ACTC’s technique for deriving stem cells without harming the embryo’s potential for life can be an important consideration for the NAS as they form their recommendations to public officials,” ACT CEO William Caldwell said in a statement LifeNews.com obtained.

"Advanced Cell Technology recently announced that company scientists demonstrated the ability to generate new human embryonic stem cell lines by adapting a proven technique already used at in vitro fertilization labs to determine genetic health," the company said in its statement. "The ACTC approach maintains the embryo’s potential for life, addressing one of the key debates in stem cell research."

However, the claim is not true.

Bioethics professor C. Ben Mitchell of Trinity International University points out that ACT’s own paper, published in the scientific journal Nature in August, indicated 16 human beings were destroyed in the process of developing the technique.

Lanza even came under fire from a Senate committee for misleading observers about the process.

Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican who is a leading backer of forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research, scolded Lanza.

"You made our job a lot tougher," he said, according to a Reuters report. He called the reports of ACT’s success "dramatic albeit false."

Nature eventually issued two "corrections" regarding misleading news releases concerning ACT’s studies.

"We feel it necessary to explain that … the embryos that were used for these experiments did not remain intact," Ruth Francis, Nature’s senior press officer, said at the time.

The biotech company also came under fire for making the false announcement at the end of a long period of decline in its stock price.

Shares of Advanced Cell Technology doubled within a matter of minutes on the announcement, going on to close the regular trading session up $1.43 to $1.83, an upswing of nearly 358%. But as news of the false claims spread, the stock declined.

Shares of ACT stock had been on a steady decline from a high of $2.96 in July 2005 until a low of 40 cents on the day ACT made its announcement. Since the false announcement, shares of ACT stock have traded fairly evenly at about 75 cents a share and the stock lists at 83 cents per share at press time.