Obama Is the True Enemy of Science

by Sal on March 10, 2009

in Nature,Politics

Yesterday, as reported here and elsewhere, Barack Obama lifted the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.  Taking aside for a moment the moral problems with embyonic stem cell research, as well as the fact that absolutely no promise has been found in this area of science, Obama’s action is even more insideous, and makes him the true enemy of science.  Obama’s action yesterday actually removes federal funding from non-embryonic stem-cell research, and adds it only to embryonic stem cell research.

Non-embryonic stem cell research, such as cord blood and adult stem cells from fat, have shown tremendous promise in the realm of potential for curing disease.  The fact that Obama’s action does away with the funding for this promising research, while at the same time providing funding for the destruction of human embryos for research that has not shown any promise shows that Obama is not the friend of science, but rather simply enacting his liberal anti-life agenda.  In this, Obama is the enemy of science, not its friend.  Rather than rely on real scientific evidence and pursue the areas of genuine promise, he is basing his decision on a far-left ideology that is outside of mainstream American thought.  Yesterday, science took a hit, and the liberal cause against life won a victory.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ethan Mendel March 10, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Embryonic stem cells and non-embryonic stem cells are for the most part, the same thing. They are medically defined as undifferentiated cells, which give rise to immature progenitor cells that form all the cells of the body.
This is the popularized definition that is mainstream today.
However, there are different types of stem cells. Adult stem cells are stored in the red bone marrow located in the medullary cavity of the long bones of the body, such as the femur or the humerus. These stem cells are known as hematopoietic stem cells, or the stem cells that give rise to the cells of the blood: your red blood cells, platelets, white blood cells, and lymphocytes. These are obviously not the stem cells that are being discussed when scientists discuss the possible benefits of stem cell research.
The stem cells in embryos on the other hand are genetically different: they can differentiate into anything, at least that’s the oversimplification. In reality even these cells differ: stem cells found in the ectoderm differentiate into skin, nails, hair, and nervous tissue for example.
So what makes these stem cells differentiate into different tissues? The answer is genetics. Different genes are expressed at different times: some genes are on some of the time, some genes are off.
Therefore stem cells in embryos have different genes that are turned on and off compared to our hematopoietic stem cells, and it is this property that allows embryonic stem cells to differentiate into a more widely varied assortment of tissues.
However, scientists are developing ways to reverse engineer older cells to have embryonic like properties. This allows them to avoid the destruction of embryos in the production of stem cells. The reason to reverse engineer an older stem cell or general tissue cell into a form that is comparable to an embryonic stem cell is to give it similar differentiation capabilities.

These facts lead me to beg a question. If the above is true, then how do embryonic stem cells have an unequal amount of therapeutic promise that non-embryonic stem cells do? In fact, if the above is true, it would imply that embryonic stem cells have MORE promise in terms of medical therapies, destruction of fetuses aside. It’s a simple biological fact: you are wrong. Embryonic and non-embryonic stem cells have similar amounts of medical promise; the only thing dividing them is the debate on the destruction of life.


Sal March 11, 2009 at 8:36 am

Your analysis is, scientifically speaking, incorrect. Embryonic stem cell research which has occured (and it has been occurring, just not from federal funds) has been fraught with problems. Besides the ethical issue of the destruction of a human embryo, embryonic stem cells have issues with differentiation to a target tissue. Embryonic stem cells also have the tendency for tumor growth and most experiments with embryonic stem cells have led to tumor formation after the stem cells have been differentiated into their targeted tissue type.

Adult stem cells, particularly those from the bone marrow and the umbilical cord, have been found to be equally as promising as the embryonic stem cells as far as differentiation go. Experiments on both have found that the adult stem cells are far easier to differentiate than their embryonic counterparts and do not have the same problems as far as runaway tumor growth in comparison to the embryonic stem cells. So, looking at the facts:

1) Cord Blood and Bone Marrow Stem cells have the same differentiation promise as embryonic stem cells.
2) Studies have shown that differentiation is far easier to control to the target tissue type with less variation.
3) Studies have shown that runaway tumor growth is far less likely with adult cord blood and bone marrow stem cells
4) There are no ethical issues surrounding cord blood and bone marrow stem cells.

So why do we even need to have the debate? There is common ground here that we can all agree on without any ethical implications that can lead to the same cure for diseases in a much shorter timeframe, without the destruction of human life.


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