Stem cell research

From the Family Research Council:

Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) announced unanimous agreement for votes as early as mid-July on a package of bioethics bills--two on stem cells and one on fetus farming. The most dangerous bill, S.471/H.R.810--sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA)--would fund stem cell research that requires the destruction of human embryos. Please make sure your two U.S. Senators know you oppose this destructive legislation. A second bill, S.2754--authored by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)--would encourage scientists to seek ethical stem cell alternatives. FRC has not taken a position on this bill; while it does not violate ethical principles and such research is currently allowed, Senators should vote for this bill instead of the embryo destruction bill. A third important bill, S.3504--sponsored by Sen. Santorum and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)--expands protections against scavenging fetal organs by prohibiting gestation of human fetuses for exploitation of their body parts. The bill, known as the "Fetus Farming" bill, is a crucial piece of legislation to prevent the further abuse of scientific research and to preserve human dignity. Let your Senators know you support these ethical bills.

Why does the government keep insisting on funding medical research? The fact of the matter is, private investors are more likely to search out companies that have a chance of curing something, because they want a return on their investment. This is why adult stem cell research is so well funded-because it is actually producing cures. Embryonic stem cell research has trouble finding funding because the only thing it has produced are rats with strange growths. Ergo, no one wants to privately fund the research, so they have to beg the government to step in. If embryonic stem cells were as promising as advocates would have us believe, there would be private investors all over the place looking to drop money on it. Instead, these scientists have to get federal funding in order to keep their jobs. Because that isn't at all self-interested.
-The Quartermaster


  • Why is U.S. federal funding important for stem cell research?
    Federal funding for research involving mouse embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells (both mouse and human) is currently available and is not restricted. However, federal funding for research involving human embryonic stem cells is limited to research involving only those cell lines that were approved by the Bush administration in August 2001. In contrast, no restrictions in the type of research that can be performed with private funds are in place. There are several reasons why these limitations are problematic.

    In the United States, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides the greatest amount of federal funding to scientists on a competitive basis, and holds a long-term perspective on biomedical research, where profit is irrelevant and the progress of science for the benefit of public health is critical. The limited amount of funding from private sources will be unable to keep pace with the needs of the stem cell research community. Less restricted availability of federal funds for human embryonic stem cell research would certainly accelerate progress in this field, and improve the health of the American people in the long-term.

    As the regulations now stand, any scientist receiving federal funds is precluded from generating additional human embryonic stem cell lines. It is still not clear to what extent the data obtained with the limited set of cell lines now available, can be generalized to the whole human population, especially given the known variability among different mouse embryonic stem cell lines. In addition, the development of efficient ways to generate new cell lines will likely be necessary if embryonic stem cells are ever to be used for therapies.

    Although the private sector can conduct research to generate new cell lines, this can lead to several problems. One is that, because of intellectual property issues, the dissemination of knowledge may be slower when the most cutting edge research is done in private companies. The results of any research performed with private funds would be out of public control, and when knowledge is not in the public domain, progress can be slowed.

    A second problem is that private companies need to benefit from their investments and at some point, make a profit. Historically, if profit is deemed unlikely, research can be stopped no matter how important it may be for public health or for the progress of science.

    It should be pointed out that research on human embryonic stem cells may not only lead to novel therapies for diseases that are currently difficult or impossible to treat, but also to novel insights into human development and into the nature of our species that could never be obtained from work with experimental animals. This type of fundamental scientific inquiry has generally been funded through the extensive federal government grants program.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:46 PM  

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