How Stem Cell Research Can Help Diseases Like Diabetes
This past week, NIH approved the use of human embryonic stem cells for research being funded by federal money, a move that overturns 8 years of stagnation in stem cell research in the United States. The NIH, authorized 13 new stem cell lines: 11 from Children's Hospital in Boston and two from Rockefeller University in New York.
In 2001, President Bush virtually halted embryonic stem cell research in the United States using morel grounds. But that is our strength as a country; we believe that everyone should be heard along with the pure power of science, and it means a fragile balance is in place and it is supposed to teach us to tolerate one another. However, the restriction forced researchers to separate government funded research from privately funded embryonic stem cell projects. Since most laboratory work is 90 percent funded with government dollars, it left little room for human embryonic stem cell research. What resulted was the inability to share ideas and expand work regarding stem cells.
A perfect example is the overwhelming support for the use of skin stem cells that can be converted back to pluripotent stem cells, which would end the use of human embryos for research. But this research has been unable to move forward because a side by side examination of the converted skin stem cells with embryonic stem cells can not be done. Without doing this test to prove that the skin stem cells are, in fact, replicating embryonic stem cells, called pluripotent stem cells, we cannot know for sure if we have the recipe for success! With the infusion of 13 new stem cell lines, another 20 to be considered this Friday and 96 more stem cell lines being vetted, I'd say the science community had made their case and won.
From my perspective, science offers the concrete evidence we need, but that does mean we can't be sensitive to the concerns and feelings of others. We could all win in this, that is if skin stem cells can be tested against human embryonic stem cells and found to be equal. In that case, the need for embryos diminishes and the hope for obliterating diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, MS, and rheumatoid arthritis become a thing of the past!