Human Exceptionalism

Lead into Gold: New Patient-Specific Stem Cell Lines Created from Patients With Genetic Diseases

Remember when the above headline was breathlessly expected to come from human cloning and to serve as a repudiation of the Bush stem cell funding policy? This breakthrough, however, came about with induced pluripotent stem cells created from patient skin cells and bone marrow. From the story:

Harvard scientists made the announcement on Thursday that they have developed 20 new stem cell lines which could lead to treatments and cures for diseases such as Parkinson’s Down Syndrome, diabetes, etc.The new stem cell lines were taken from patients who already had a genetic illness, and are based on regular skin cells and bone marrow.

Yes, yes, I know: ESCR was needed to develop iPSCs. But most, if not all, of that research was done with Bush approved cell lines. Moreover, as I have argued, I believe that Bush’s focus on the moral importance of the human embryo created the atmosphere in which scientists kept searching for ethical ways to obtain the benefits of pluripotent stem cells–a continuing saga which should bring us even better news in the months and years to come.

Here’s the point: iPSCs are doing now what the brave new world types promised therapeutic cloning would do in about a decade. No wonder the stem cell controversy isn’t one in the current election.