Embryonic Stem Cell Research to Receive Federal Funding

Mar 8, 2009
by: daneb
Career goals

    This Monday should mark a major step forward for disease-fighting scientific research.  President Obama is set to reverse the Bush Administration's ban on embryonic stem cell research and, in the process, vindicate scientists around the country who have run out of cell lines with which to do their work.  Stem cells have been a somewhat controversial issue over the past eight years because although they have the potential to factor into life-saving research, they are harvested from days-old embryos that must be killed.  These embryos usually come from excess fertilizations in fertility clinics and are destined to be thrown out anyway, but critics worry about the intential production and then killing of embryos. Some right-wing religious advocates feel that embryos with just a few undifferentiated cells still constitute human life that should no more be used for medical research than adult human body parts.

Embryonic stem cells are master cells that can morph into any cell of the body. Scientists hope to harness them so they can create replacement tissues to treat a variety of diseases — such as new insulin-producing cells for diabetics, cells that could help those with Parkinson's disease or maybe even Alzheimer's, or new nerve connections to restore movement after spinal injury.

Report: Obama to reverse restrictions on stem cell work - USATODAY.com

Opponents of embryonic stem cell research claim that it's immoral and unethical to spend taxpayer dollars for research that involves destroying embryos. Critics also argue that adult stem cells negate the need for embryonic stem cell research. But scientists believe that embryonic stem cells offer the most hope for treating a host of ills and injuries, because, unlike adult stem cells, they can morph into almost any type of tissue.

Obama to lift restrictions on embryonic stem cell research: Scientific American Blog

    Stem cell research has not ground to a halt over the past several years. On the contrary, private funding has kept the field going; Geron Corp, for example, is set to begin "the world's first study of a treatment using human embryonic stem cells, in people who recently suffered a spinal cord injury."  However, the new federal funding will fuel great progress across the floundering biomedical industry.

As of Monday, scientists who've had to meticulously keep separate their federally funded research and their privately funded stem cell work — from buying separate microscopes to even setting up labs in different buildings — won't have that expensive hurdle anymore.

Report: Obama to reverse restrictions on stem cell work - USATODAY.com