The last week has seen a rash of new articles by various news sources on the benefits of stem cell research. While not all countries have had an outright ban on research in this area some countries such as the United States have put in place severe restrictions which limit the amount of research that can be done. That policy may be set to change with the new US Administration set to take control over both the White House and Capital Hill in late January.
At issue is the fact that one major source of stem cells is from embryonic tissues – essentially fetuses. While not unique to either a right leaning or left leaning ideology, the Christian Right in the United States has been the most vocal objector to stem cell research on the basis of theological grounds. The general argument is that since abortion is wrong, some would go so far as to say criminal, ergo any research derived from the deliberate use of that act should also be wrong and therefore not permitted.
The problem is that the United States is now 8 years behind in stem cell research including a number of breakthroughs in the understanding of differences between adult and embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells are now realized to be as effective in the creation of new tissue types as embryonic cells. While this might not hold in every case, it is far easier for researchers to obtain adult stem cells without the religious and political overtones.
So . . . is the recent rash of news articles and attempt by the media to push forward an agenda that will promote a quick end to the Bush policies on stem cell research or is this simply playing into the fact that the new administration seems pre-disposed to this idea already as one of its intended promises. Not that politicians and the news media use each other on a regular basis mind you. But it just seems strange to my mind, with so many other things going on, that the media should pick now to start picking up on these stories on mass. Not that this is a bad thing – just very strange in terms of timing me thinks.