Tuesday, May 30, 2006

2526 The U.S. isn't falling behind in stem cell research

as reported in the latest Wired (14:06, June 2006). "Ever since President Bush hobbled domestic stem cell research nearly five years ago, US scientists have been left with just 22 viable embryonic cell lines to use for federally funded projects." says Greta Lorge in "Where the cells are."

However, in the April 2006 issue of Nature Biotechnology there was a review of all scientific publications involving the use or derivation of human embryonic stem cells, starting with the very first paper in 1998 and ending just over a year ago. Librarians love review articles. The authors' intention was to blame Bush for the U.S. falling behind, but instead says The New Atlantis (Number 12, Spring 2006, pp. 112-115) . . .

"The study itself, however, tells a very different story. Owen-Smith and McCormick reviewed the 132 human embryonic stem cell articles published in 55 scientific journals since 1998. Far from showing the United States lagging behind in the field, they found that American scientists had by far the most publications—46 percent of the total, while the other 54 percent were divided among scientists from 17 other countries. They also found that the number of papers in the field published by Americans has increased each year, with a particularly notable growth spurt beginning in 2002. . . 85 percent of all the published embryonic stem cell research in the world has used the lines approved for funding under the Bush policy"

President Bush said, "We should not use public money to support the further destruction of human life," and I agree, but as it turns out both morality and scientific research can go hand in hand.

Thank you, Mr. President. At a time when a lot of us are scratching our heads over some of your other decisions, it is nice to be reminded how standing firm in the face of media criticism and poll numbers pays off.

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