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Good article.

While we in Medical Genetics and other fields are thrilled about pluripotent stem cells being useful in reinsertion of modified cells to cure impacts such as bone marrow and other such cell- and organ-killing disease, the reality is that for the basic underlying scientific research we really need raw stem cells.

The yield of pluripotent stem cells is very very low - we almost have to take a pound of flesh to get a small teeny vial of useable reset stem cells, and even more die when we modify them.

But raw stem cells have a very high yield factor and are easier to perpetuate in stem cell lines for the basic research in sufficient quantities to be able to use high-powered statistical analysis on to discover things.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 17, 2008 11:36 AM

Federal funding for issues with a moral component is inherently awkward since morality by and large is dictated by the states and not by the federal government. If stem-cell opponents want to ban stem cell research in their state, they are free to do so.

I think what most people don't understand (or at least I don't) is that embryonic stem cell research is not therapeutic in aim. As Will says, it's about basic research. In the end, the hope of stem cells is that you would be able to grow your own autografts; make a new heart from your own cells and there are no immunological complications. If you grow a heart from embryonic stem cells, it's not better than a donor heart.

This of course bears the criticism that as much as we might learn from embryonic stem cells, there's no guarantee that information will transfer simply into methods involving adult stem cells--in the same way efforts to turn adult cells back into quasi-pleuripotent cells have been criticised for the improbability that these will properly model embryonic stem cells.

In some ways, funding adult stem cells and limiting embryonic stem cells is in line with the criticism of the Bush administration that they fund applications-oriented research far more than basic research (which many say was in part to blame for the near funding-failing of the Fermi lab).

Posted by Mr. Joshua | July 17, 2008 12:38 PM

Even if you believe the idiotic assumption that cells in a petri dish are human beings, George Bush has been directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, REAL LIVE PEOPLE, for no damn good reason AT ALL! So his bullshit about the sanctity of human life is just that...BULLSHIT! He's just doing what the fucking pope wants.

Posted by Vince | July 17, 2008 12:45 PM

So, to translate all our scientific comments, Bush and McCain are killing Americans.

Some today, some tomorrow, and some in the distant future.

And making us a third world nation from a scientific viewpoint ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 17, 2008 2:08 PM

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