Wake Forest And The Debate on Funding Stem Cell Research

There is an important development in the debate on federal support for stem cell research that has a North Carolina connection. Dr. Anthony Atala, head of Wake Forest's regenerative medicine institute, announced a breakthrough that suggests stem cells drawn from the amniotic fluid donated by pregnant women could be a substitute for many of the research purposes previously reserved for embryonic stem cells.

Until now the issue over stem cell research has centered almost exclusively on stem cells extracted from fertilized human eggs harvested from clinics that specialize in in vitro fertilization. The objection to the use of these fertilized eggs by both the religious right and the Catholic Church has been based upon their common belief that life begins at conception.

The breakthrough at Wake Forest is now cause for those who have moral objections to using embryonic stem cells to see this new alternative as an acceptable substitute. Unfortunately, it appears that while amniotic stem cells show promise, it's also true that they are not a perfect and identical substitute. Dr. Atala, interviewed last night on The News Hour, said that there would continue to be significant areas of research that would be better served by embryonic stem cells.

At least in the early going this caveat has been almost totally lost on those who categorically oppose the use of embryonic stem cells. This morning the media were filled with press releases from the White House, the Vatican, and conservatives of every stripe and situation celebrating this new development as the end of the debate. Of course it isn't the end of the debate, and most likely it will not affect the likelihood that the new Democratic Congress will pass a bill on Thursday approving federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

What's less clear is how influential this new development at Wake Forest will be in the effort to sustain President Bush's inevitable veto. For a few legislators on the fence, this promising scientific development may be all the reason they need to either oppose funding embryonic stem cell research, or at the very least be absent in their support for it.

In the last congress the same bill passed in the house on a vote of 238-194, but then the house failed to override a veto. For the house to have a veto proof majority in favor of the bill there would have to be 288 votes in favor. According to people in the know who count noses on the issue, the House is still 30 votes short of an override, but a strong push in the newly changed political environment could make it very close. With Sen. Corker replacing Sen. Frist, the Senate is still one vote short of a veto proof majority.


The same people that trumpet these as a replacement for ES cells

said the same thing about adult ES cells. Neither is true. The cell phone analogy.

adult stem cells are the Verizon LG.

Amniotic stem cells are the LG enV (VX9900).

But, embryonic stem cells are the RIM Blackberry 7130c

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it.
- Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Great analogy Robert

Adult stem cells might even be more like 1985-vintage pagers, compared to Apple's new iPod phone (supposedly to be announced soon).

religion is a crutch

If the state were so enlightened as to outlaw the use of this opiate for the masses, they would free our unfortunate and afflicted fellow citizens from their prisons of the mind. At that point society would be free to further the public interest through stem cell research and homosexual marriage. I only hope that legislators will have the forsight to disallow medical researchers to extract labor compensation beyond the level at which any other type of labor is compensated. The capitalist pig-dogs assert that a shortage of medical researchers would exist if they were unable to impose their onerous claims to higher compensation upon the citizenry. But we know that enlightened citizens would pursue the requisite schooling after being compelled by the state for the benefit of the public.

Enlightened citizens of America...I call on you to cast off archaic notions of private property and cede your belongings to the omnipotent state. Follow me, comrades, into the enlightened century of benevolent central planning! Vive la revolution!

Heath Shuler on Fence about Stem Cell Research

According to an article in the Winston-Salem Journal...

Freshman Rep. Heath Shuler, D-11th, said he was unsure how he would vote Thursday and said he expected that the new research would "absolutely" play a role in whatever decision he ultimately makes. Shuler opposes abortion and has concerns about embryonic stem-cell research.

His vote won't matter much now, but when it comes time to over ride George Bush's veto it could be crucial.

I'm 56 years old. I moved to North Carolina five years ago. The previous twenty-five years I spent as a resident of Chicago's north shore and before that Wisconsin, Utah and California. I live in Moore County. My Congressman is Howard Coble, my State Sen

this is crazy.

I can't believe he would go against Stem Cell research, then ask scientists to support a "Research Triangle Park" in WNC for alternative energy.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it.
- Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.