Friday, June 15, 2007
Ellen Goodman on stem cells
- Congress' bill to increase federal funding for stem-cell research (S. 5) is heading to the President, who -- if he keeps his promise, and who thinks he won't? -- veto the bill in order to protect the embryos that would otherwise be destroyed for their stem cells. The research report on reprogramming mouse skin cells to act like pluripotent stem cells, writes Goodman, will surely be a part of the president's spin ("see, told you so, we don't actually need to use human embryos").
- That's possibly good politics (unless everyone sees through it) but bad science. First, we don't know how to do this in humans, or even whether we can do this in humans. "Second, this breakthrough actually began with scientists studying the genes in mice embryos. Anybody who wants to repeat the work in humans will have to use human embryos to learn the same mechanics."
So this well-timed announcement about the switchability of skin cells in mice shouldn't for a minute provide cover for a presidential veto of this bill.