Sunday, January 30, 2005

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Progress Despite Bush Policy

As reported today out of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, scientists are making progress on using embryonic stem cells:
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have coaxed human embryonic stem cells into becoming spinal motor neurons in an experiment the might lead to treatments and cures for spinal-cord injuries and diseases like Lou Gehrig's disease.

So what's the big deal about a little disease like Lou Gehrig's? Well, for one thing, read the description of this horrible condition, as explained by University of Kansas physician, Dr.
Anne D. Walling:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive neuromuscular condition characterized by weakness, muscle wasting, fasciculations and increased reflexes. Approximately 30,000 Americans currently have the disease. The annual incidence rate is one to two cases per 100,000. The disease is most commonly diagnosed in middle age and affects more men than women. It usually presents with problems in dexterity or gait resulting from muscle weakness. Difficulty in speaking or swallowing is the initial symptom in the bulbar form of the disease. Over a period of months or years, patients with ALS develop severe, progressive muscular weakness and other symptoms caused by loss of function in both upper and lower motor neurons. Sphincter control, sensory function, intellectual abilities and skin integrity are preserved. Patients become completely disabled, often requiring ventilatory support and gastrostomy. Death usually occurs within five years of diagnosis and is attributed to respiratory failure or cachexia. The etiology of the disease is unknown. Current research is focused on abnormalities of neuronal cell metabolism involving glutamate and the role of potential neurotoxins and neurotrophic factors. New drugs are being developed based on these theories. Current management involves aggressive, individualized alleviation of symptoms and complications.

And what has been the difference between Senator John Kerry and President Bush (as well as all of the other Republicans who support this suppression of the Sciences)?

As Senator Kerry explained in the 2004 election:
Bush "has an extreme ideological agenda that slows instead of advances science," Kerry said. "When I am president...we will lead the world in stem cell research."

As USA Today explained in the same article:
Bush banned federal funding for research that uses stem cells from destroyed embryos. In 2001, he allowed research by government-funded scientists on 60 existing lines of cells. Citing moral considerations, he did not allow research using new lines from embryos that had not already been destroyed.

To top it off, as recently reported, all of the embryonic stem cell lines approved by the Administration are contaminated, and unfit for human implantation.

As Laura Bush, our First Lady, stated during the last election:
"We don't even know that stem cell research will provide cures for anything — much less that it's very close" to yielding major advances.

Well we know that things are closer in Madison, Wisconsin. We know that Christopher Reeve won't be around to appreciate the results of research. We know that this President has limited scientific support to just a few embryonic stem cell lines. And we know that those cell lines are unfit for human implantation due to contamination.

We also know, that we could have done better in 2004. That 55 million Americans weren't wrong about John Kerry. That we need him now as President. But we shall have to wait for 2008. Keep that door open John!



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