November 30, 2005

The Paralyzed May Walk Without Embryonic Stem Cells

One of the great tragedies of embryonic stem cell research may end up being that we will get our miracle cures after all but embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) research may slow them down by drawing funding into experimental techniques that never actually pay off. That outcome is drawing nearer with the announcement of approaching human trials to reverse spinal cord injuries using adult stem cells (ASC) from the patient's nose.

Famously, allowing Chris Reeve to walk again via stem cell research was a rallying cry at at least one of Sen. Edwards campaign speeches in 2004 and the reluctance to support ESC was and is a major charge in the bill of indictment that the GOP is anti-science.

The ASC human trials keep on coming, the actual ASC cures keep on coming, yet somehow it is ESC that gains all the attention and is preferentially favored by so many in political circles. The nose cell nerve regeneration human trials, for example, await further funding (they're 1M british pounds short). The nose cell studies are exactly the sort of work that is difficult to fund commercially because there's little money to be made in it. Nothing's patentable about it. Once the technique is perfected, most reasonably equipped hospital can use the technique. It's always difficult to raise money for less trendy research and the left has made sure that ASC research is as untrendy as possible. Pity.

Posted by TMLutas at November 30, 2005 10:22 PM