Sunday, November 09, 2008

2009 CGS Forecast: Petri Dishes -- Not Stem Cell Therapies

The usual season for prognostications for the coming year is the end of December. But Jesse Reynolds of the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland, Ca., weighed in last week with a couple.

Writing on his group's Biopolitical Times, Reynolds said,
"With the end of stem cell research as a political vehicle, its advocates are likely to temper expectations. They'll not just move out the goalposts on the timeline towards treatments, but the touted uses of stem cells will shift from potential cellular therapies to models of human diseases in Petri dishes and better drug testing methods. These new purposes will win fewer votes than "your own personal biological repair kit," but they are also much more realistic."
Reynolds also predicted there will be no outpouring of federal cash for hESC in the near future. He made a different case than we did in our item below. He said,
"Even when President-elect Obama removes the Bush restrictions, federal funds will be available only to work with embryonic stem cell lines, not to create new ones. Grants for the latter are restricted by the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which would be left in place by both the repeatedly-vetoed stem cell bill and Obama's platform."
Reynolds also made his case for the death of hESC research as a political vehicle. He said,
"...(T)he real message from this election cycle is the end of embryonic stem cell research as a relevant political issue. It was huge in 2004, present but marginal in 2006, and seemed comatose with the 2007's failure of New Jersey's stem cell funding initiative. In this cycle, the topic made barely a peep.

"Hopefully now work can proceed in concert with a level-headed conversation about the true potential of stem cell research and the real challenges posed by human reproductive and genetic biotechnologies."
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