Archive for Monday, March 9, 2009

Obama pledges administration will be guided by science

Embryonic stem cell policy to be overturned today

March 9, 2009


— President Barack Obama’s announcement today that he is overturning his predecessor’s policies on embryonic stem cells also will include a broad declaration that science — not political ideology — would guide his administration.

Obama planned to reverse President George W. Bush’s limits on federally funded stem cell research through the National Institutes of Health and to put in place safeguards through the Office of Science and Technology Policy so that science is protected from political interference. The moves would fulfill a campaign promise.

“We’ve got eight years of science to make up for,” said Dr. Curt Civin, whose research allowed scientists to isolate stem cells and who now serves as the founding director of the University of Maryland Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. “Now, the silly restrictions are lifted.”

Bush limited taxpayer money for stem cell research to a small number of stem cell lines that were created before Aug. 9, 2001. Many of those faced drawbacks. Hundreds more of such lines — groups of cells that can continue to propagate in lab dishes — have been created since then. Scientists say those newer lines are healthier and better suited to creating treatments for diseases, but were largely off-limits to researchers who took federal funds.

“We view what happened with stem cell research in the last administration is one manifestation of failure to think carefully about how federal support of science and the use of scientific advice occurs,” said Harold Varmus, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist who is chairman of the White House’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.

Bush and his supporters said they were defending human life; days-old embryos — typically from fertility-clinic leftovers otherwise destined to be thrown away — are destroyed for the stem cells.

Obama’s advisers sought to downplay the divisions.

“I think we all realize, and the president certainly understands, there are people of good faith on both sides of this issue,” said Melody Barnes, the White House’s domestic policy adviser. “We recognize there are a range of beliefs on this.”


Centerville 9 years, 3 months ago

He's ridiculous. Embryonic stem cell research in the US has never stopped...and has never produced anything useful. And will now be rewarded with big piles of our money. Just like everyting else he's shilling.

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

The absence of US taxpayer funding did not seem to hinder stem cell research in the Phillippines:


We have to expand our own approaches with regard to stem-cell medicine. Our hospitals should go beyond the standards of the US. Let’s not be imitators,” pointed out Bernal, who has been traveling to Russia, Europe and Australia to get ideas which approaches are best for the Philippines.

“We have to maximize our talents and skills in this labor-intensive field on how to process cells in more customized ways,” added Bernal.

Bernal said the Philippines has to focus on anticancer stem-cell treatments, myocardial regeneration, bone and cartilage regeneration, skin repair, eye stem cells, nerve and brain regeneration, kidney and bladder regeneration, liver regeneration, lung regeneration and endocrine-tissue repair.

Regenerative medicine is an innovative program that involves the engineering of living cells, tissues and organs to preserve and enhance organ function and improve the quality of life.

There are a number of stem-cell therapies already in common use today, such as bone-marrow transplant that is used to treat leukemia.

Researchers also hold great hope that these new technologies will be able to treat a wide variety of debilitating conditions, such as spinal-cord injuries, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and muscle damage.

However, there still exists a great deal of resistance on some stem-cell developments. Bernal, for one, is opposed to the use of embryonic stem cells or cells that are taken from early- stage embryos.

“Embryonic stem cells are not safe for use because they cause cancer and liver diseases,” said Bernal, who obtained a medical-doctor degree at the University of Chicago. “The safest and effective way is through bioregenerative medicine [BRM].”

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 3 months ago

Our tax dollars already fund Planned Parenthood abortions, so why not the destruction of human embyos? Sad.

notajayhawk 9 years, 3 months ago

It's good the administration is being guided by science.

It sure as heck wasn't being guided by economics.

Bob Forer 9 years, 3 months ago

Jesus. Next thing, he'll be telling us we are in a depression. A few weeks ago, my favorite multimilliionaire told us the fundamentals of the economy are sound. He wouldn't lie, would he. Not a war hero.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 3 months ago

"Obama pledges administration will be guided by Soros"

lwctown 9 years, 3 months ago

Better to be guided by science and openess unlike the previous 8 years where it was guided by lies, deception, and suppression of the truth.

Confrontation 9 years, 3 months ago

It's nice to finally have a President who runs things based on science, rather than one who based it on the "teachings" of a fabricated sky god.

staff04 9 years, 3 months ago

When Bush signed his order there were 78 lines that were eligible for federal funding. After 8 years of his destructive policy, there were 20, and all 20 of them were contaminated and not suitable for human applications.

Also, it should be noted that a human trial was just approved by the FDA to use embryonic stem cells for spinal injuries, so to say that nothing has been developed MUST take into consideration that while adult stem cell research has been going on for decades, embryonic stem cell research is relatively new science.

Someone above said he's not being guided by the economy. It is a fact that every NIH research grant awarded creates 7 jobs that pay over $50k/year. Money that goes into states returns on that investment by a 3 to 1 rate in supporting economic development.

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

Obama makes another stern promise that cloning will not be tolerated, and that there will be strict enforcement of.....something to be determined at a later date and enforced by he doesn't know who. But he signed the executive order today. No oversight in place. No regulations. It is an ethics-free free-for-all until, and if, Obama keeps his promise.

staff04 9 years, 3 months ago

Not so, Godot--very specifically the executive order does NOT lift the ban on the creation of new federally funded stem cell lines. It allows lines that were created privately over the last 8 years to become eligible for federal funding. There's no free-for-all...

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

Staff04, what agency will enforce what regulations? What will be the penalty for violating such unknown regulations?

staff04 9 years, 3 months ago

There is still a legislative ban on creation of new lines of federally funded embryonic stem cells.

Who enforced the last 8 years of the regulations and what were the penalties of violating them? Therein you will find the answer to your question.

Now, if you are asserting that the NIH won't follow the law because there's a new administration, I think you are delusional. The regulations and restrictions are clearly laid out in the executive order, as I have highlighted above.

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

Obama's call for extreme care and caution in use of embryonic stem cells and an absolute ban on cloning will turn out to be just like his ban on lobbyists in the whitehouse, and no earmarks in the budget. Worthless.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 3 months ago

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

That just about sums it up. I guess it's time for right-wing ideologues to writhe in the political agony that has been the position of pro-science folks for the past 8 years.

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

If there is no ethical or moral problem with destroying embryos for research, why did Obama's order restrict the government funding from being used to create the stem cell lines? If he really sees no problem with the destruction of embryos, that was a really callous, calculated move.

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

After thinking about what Obama did by prohibiting the use of federal funds to create or purchase embryos for the purpose of stem cell research, I finally realized what the future holds.

Women who endure the agony and exhorbitant expense of in-vitro fertilization will be invited, i.e. coerced, by medical professionals who, in exchange for federal money, will exploit their emotions of guilt/patriotism/belief in the skittles pooping unicorn, into donating their excess embryos "for the common good." Thus, a research university can receive the gift of the excess embryos at no cost, and can begin to destroy the excess embryos for the purpose of research that may or may not yield a cure, that may or may not come within our lifetime, or our children's lifetime.

Empathizing with Obama can be an extremely unpleasant experience from a moral, ethical, and logical point of view.

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