Friday, November 11, 2016

Trump's 'Ouija' Stem Cell Policy Is Making Scientists Anxious

One of the bulwarks of the mainstream media today weighed in with a hefty assessment of Trump and stem cells, declaring that researchers are "anxious" about what is likely ahead.

Prominently mentioned by ABC News was Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who supported legislation in Indiana banning donation of fetal tissue for research. That law, signed by Pence as governor of Indiana, was temporarily halted by a judge, who questioned its constitutionality.

Alta Charo, a bioethicist and law professor at the University of Wisconsin, was quoted as saying that trying to determine what Trump's stem cell policy might be is a "little bit like using a Ouija board." But she did point to Pence's fetal tissue position.  Additionally, Trump has taken a pro life position on abortion.

Also cited in the article at some length was a spokesman for the $3 billion California stem cell agency, which owes its existence to presidential restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research. ABC reporter Gillian Mahoney wrote,
 "Kevin McCormack, communications director at California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said reintroducing a funding ban to stymie research would likely be more difficult than it was in the early 2000s when stem cell research was a new field.
"'It would be like putting a genie back in the bottle,' said McCormack.
"Pointing to one case at the University of Southern California, where a paralyzed man regained hand movement after an experimental stem cell therapy, McCormack said any measures that would halt funding or restrict stem cell research wholesale, 'would be like going up to someone and say you can't have that treatment.'
"McCormack did note that more states have provided stem cell funding, including California, which provides grants for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. While state funding could help, the NIH provides a huge amount of funding for U.S. medical research, spending approximately $32 billion on medical research annually."
(Editor's note: The state does not provide grants for the stem cell agency. The agency uses state bonds to provide grants to researchers.  The agency's funding flows straight to it without intervention by lawmakers or the governor.)

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