American Elephants

Geron Corporation Quits Embryonic Stem Cell Research. by The Elephant's Child

Geron Corporation was the company doing the first government-approved test of embryonic stem cell therapy. After years of promises, the first-ever human trial using an embryonic stem-cell derived product for spinal-cord injury made international headlines. Now the Washington Post has reported that Geron has abandoned the field entirely. The company is eliminating 66 full-time jobs. No venture capital interest.

The stem-cell story is a revealing demonstration of what happens when politics gets too involved in medicine. If you remember, when President Obama was inaugurated, he made a big deal of rescinding the Bush order restricting use of embryonic stem cells to existing lines, and claimed that there were 22 volunteers waiting to be treated with embryonic stem cells.  Last we ever heard of those volunteers.

Liberals chose to believe that Republicans were fundamentalist, snake-handling, Southern religious nuts who were preventing Superman from getting the embryonic stem-cell treatment that would let him walk again. Liberals have trouble with moral issues, and seem to be uncomfortable with ideas like “right” and “wrong.” The idea that we should not use human embryos for medical treatments, that it is ethically wrong, and a slippery slope to human cloning is inconceivable to many liberals.

Liberals simply do not accept the fact that successful treatments with adult stem cells are saving lives, curing diseases, and offering ever-more promise, while there has never been a successful treatment with embryonic stem cells. To a liberal, the entire story of stem cells remains a story of Republican rejection of science and Republican religious nuttery. The linked article from the Washington Post remains unaware of the tremendous successes in adult stem cell treatment:

Embryonic stem cells can develop into any type of cell in the body. The hope is that one day they might be used to replace or repair damaged tissue from ailments such as heart disease, Parkinson’s and stroke.

But using stem cells from embryos has long been controversial and is opposed by some groups for religious and moral reasons.

Liberals heard Christopher Reeve’s pleas for help for spinal cord injuries, felt great sympathy, and stopped thinking or learning. The same attitude has prevailed in the issue of “Global Warming,”climate change, green energy or environmentalism in general. Republicans are fundamentalist, science-rejecting nuts because everybody knows that the consensus of all real scientists in the world is that global warming is an urgent problem and we really must save the planet.

Wesley J. Smith is a noted bioethicist, author and lawyer. He wrote for National Review:

This is an atom bomb of a story that will have a serious effect on the entire regenerative medical sector. And it should embarrass the critics of President Bush; the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which bragged about its part in funding a scientist involved in the research; and, perhaps most of all, the fawning media that have acted as press agent for both the field generally, and Geron specifically.

The advances in stem cell treatment are spectacular. I have written about the skin gun before. It seems like a real medical miracle. Do watch the video.

2 Comments so far
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No question, the way forward looks like using the stem cells from a specific organ of the person being treated. This story from just 3 days ago about a heart patient who has stem cells from his own heart multiplied and then injected back:


Comment by Tom

There are an amazing number of new treatments and new discoveries in the health care world, just at a time when medicine is under attack as never before. Rick Perry had successful stem cell treatment for a back injury, and got a lot of criticism for it.
Heart disease is a far bigger problem than cancer, yet we mostly fear cancer more. Israel just announced a new vaccine for cancer that helps to prevent recurrence. Thanks for the link.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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