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Stem Cell Therapies; The New Grail.

10 March, 2009

The fact the President Obama has lifted former President Bush’s ban on federal funding for stem cell research is a fantastic step forward. His assertion that politics should not interfere with scientific research means that researchers can now be funded to look at the practical applications of stem cell therapies.

This is a good thing. It means that research can be carried out on diseases and conditions such as HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, leukemia, liver and heart disease and also for those suffering from nervous system illnesses such as paralysis.

While he was still alive, Christopher Reeve, the Superman actor of the early 80s was a huge proponent of stem cell research, as you can imagine, he would have benefited from any breakthroughs for his own paralysis. He had been confined to a wheelchair after a tragic horse riding accident.

However, keeping politics out of scientific research is a double edged sword. There needs to be strict regulation as to how far scientists and researchers can go with this technology. Obama has already stated that “We will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction.” Again this is a good thing. Scientists have a tendency to forget that just because they can do something, doesn’t mean they have to go ahead and do it!

I’m sure and I have every faith in the Obama administration, that strict regulations will be put in place to restrict certain research. The government should stay at arms length, but keep a watchful eye on what’s being done.

Stem cells are cells with the capacity to turn into any other type of human cell, be it bone, muscle or nerve cell. One embryo can provide a limitless supply because the cell lines can be grown indefinitely. But the use of human embryonic stem cells in research is controversial with some religious campaigners saying it is unethical.

The US Government should also ensure that the religious groups who have decried stem cell research from the start don’t get involved either.

Scientific research should be done without political and religious interference. If the religious groups want to fund their own research; let them.

stemcellcartoon

Like Mr Bush, President Obama has profound Christian beliefs but he has defined the issue in terms of integrity. To that end, he also signed a memorandum directing the White House’s science and technology office to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government. And he vowed that only research meeting strict ethical guidelines would be allowed, stressing that under no circumstances would stem cells be used for research into human cloning.

“It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society,” Mr Obama said.

I couldn’t agree with him more, and I’m not a religious man at all. I believe that there is no reason for human cloning, why would we want a human copy, for what purpose would this person be created? That is a whole different set of philosophies and should be left to the realms of science fiction.

I’m looking forward to new advances in therapies for disease and illness, and I’m 100% certain that there will be advances. The possibilities that stem cell research opens up is staggering and I for one support this branch of medicine with every beat of my possible future failing heart.

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