Embryonic Stem Cell Research Advocates Backpeddle on Obama-Funded Cures

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Advocates Backpeddle on Obama-Funded Cures

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 1
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Barack Obama hasn’t yet taken up residence in the White House or overturned the limits President Bush put in place prohibiting taxpayer funding of new embryonic stem cell research that destroys lives. Now, already, scientists are backing down on the promises of cures resulting from Obama’s promised funding.

Leading scientists who bashed Bush for putting the pro-life policy in place are now saying they don’t expect any cures within the first year — or even the first term — of the Obama administration.

Terry Devitt, the director of research communications for the University of Wisconsin, admits that, “There’s still a lot of basic science to be done" before embryonic stem cell research may bear fruit — if it ever does.

"The [Bush] policy has set research back five to six to seven years in this country,” Devitt ," Devitt claimed

The Hill newspaper also talked with several scientists at other research firms and universities and warned, "Though optimistic about the effects of a new federal policy, research institutes caution that the fruits of this research will take time and that cures are not around the corner."

Wesley J. Smith, a bioethics attorney, says attacking the Bush administration’s policy for either a lack of funding or success doesn’t square with the facts.

"Oh please. First, thanks to Bush probably more money was thrown at ESCR than ever would have otherwise been the case," Smith explained.

That’s because state governments like those in California, Illinois and elsewhere may not have funded embryonic stem cell research as much had the federal government spent taxpayer funds on it.

"Second, according to the Rockefeller Institute, the field has received a whopping $2 billion in research funds in the USA alone," Smith explained — saying that embryonic stem cells have received significant funding.

Smith says his point is borne out in the fact that scientists conducting embryonic experiments in nations where governments have not limited funding have progressed no further than their American counterparts.

Instead, Smith says the science is the problem.

Embryonic stem cells have formed tumors when injected into animals and immune systems have rejected the insertion of the cells. Those are two big hurdles embryonic stem cells have yet to overcome that don’t plague either adult stem cell research or the new iPS cells created by direct reprogramming.

"The most pressing problems for ESCR have been the technical difficulties associated with the field and patent disputes," Smith argues. "But that isn’t good for the politics of the thing."

"So expect Bush to continue to be a convenient excuse for the failure of field–so far–to fulfill the hype. In this sense, he might be worth his weight in political gold," Smith concluded.

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