Human Exceptionalism

This Can’t Be Right: US Leads in Stem Cell Research

After all the howling and moaning, after all of the demagoguery against President Bush’s ESC funding, after being warned darkly that the day of US dominance in science was over, it turns out that we lead the pack, after all. From an editorial in the Financial Times

As the FDA hearings demonstrate, the US has moved ahead of the rest of the world in stem cell research, as it has in almost every area of bioscience that really matters. The furore over President George W. Bush’s ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research gave some people a false impression that the US risked losing its lead in the field to Europe or Asia. While the ban has indeed caused delay and inconvenience to American stem cell scientists, the overall strength of biomedical research in the country, harnessed to the availability of private and state funds, has kept the US at the front of the field.

The FT yearns for ESC cures. But it omits the cogent truth that Bush’s funding policies also successfully induced scientists to find ethical means of obtaining pluripotent stem cells–resulting in IPSCs and research into other promising avenues.

I still believe that most treatments–as I have said before, I think generally “cure” is too strong a word–will come from adult stem cells and other areas of regenerative medicine. But be that as it may, it is now abundantly clear that all of the holding of their breath until they turned blue from “the scientists,” political operatives, and biased media obsessed with the Bush policy, was just a tantrum thrown by people used to always getting their own way.