When 140 Characters Isn't Enough
Bioethics: British and Japanese researchers have been awarded this year's Nobel Prize for showing how to create embryonic stem cells without using human embryos in a genuinely promising line of research.
For decades now, embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) has been trumpeted as the most promising avenue of research, and those who had moral qualms about using human embryos were dismissed as Bible-thumping troglodytes who stood in the way of making the lame walk.
ESCR supporters said their way led to finding "imminent" miracle cures to tragic and sometimes deadly conditions and diseases. They dismissed suggestions of a more promising way with less ethical and moral baggage.
President George W. Bush, the first president to fund embryonic stem cell research, was one who wrestled with the moral qualms and was accused along with others of "politicizing science" for raising concerns about using human embryos created specifically for that purpose.
Federal funding of stem cell research is one of the decisions Bush covers in his book, "Decision Points." On Page 117, he writes: "Embryonic stem cell research seemed to offer so much hope. Yet it raised troubling moral concerns. I wondered if it was possible to find a principled policy that advanced science while respecting the dignity of life."
Well, there is a way, and on Monday two researchers — one British, the other Japanese — were awarded the Nobel Prize for finding it. John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka won this year's prize in physiology or medicine for discovering that mature, specialized cells of the body can be reprogrammed into becoming primitive cells that are the equivalent of embryonic stem cells.
In 2006 researchers led by Dr. Yamanaka of Japan's Kyoto University were first able to "reprogram" human skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells. The National Institutes of Health has said this type of stem cell offers the prospect of having an endless and renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's as well as spinal cord injuries, strokes, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few.
Read More At IBD: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/100812-628598-yamanaka-gur...