President's Veto of Stem Cell Research and "Brain Drain"

Submitted by Kevin Cronin on Thu, 07/20/2006 - 07:46.

Who are Roger Peterson and Judith Swain and why should you care?These world-leading scientists are part of America's “brain drain,” genetic researchers moving overseas to work on stem cell research, a trend almost certain to expand under the hostile climate in the US reflected in the President's veto of the stem cell research legislation. The veto maintains a failed policy that is leaving American researchers far behind in one of the most important scientific fields. Here are a few “brain drain” examples:

  • Roger Peterson left the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco in 2001, citing the unfriendly research climate in the US. He now conducts human stem cell research at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. He and his UK team are exploring the biology behind multipurpose stem cells, reviewing ways to use them for treatment, areas ineligible for Federal funding to in the US.

  • Dr. Judith Swain, from the University of California San Diego, will leave for Singapore in September, working at Biopolis, Singapore's state-funded research institute. Her husband, Dr. Edward Holmes, also of the University of California at San Diego, is a ranking official in California's stem cell agency and is also leaving for Singapore.

  • NIH researchers, Neal Copeland and Nancy Jenkins, turned down offers to join Stanford University's stem cell department, moving to Singapore. Copeland has said that he selected Singapore because of its ‘unfettered support of human embryonic stem cell research.’

  • Federal research funding is available in at least 10 other nations – Germany, Finland, France, Sweden, United Kingdom, South Korea, Singapore, Israel, China, and Australia, which offer hundreds of millions of dollars investments and are already producing tangible progress.

-- Sweden funds 400 researchers, while South Korea and China each fund an additional 300. Australia has pledged $90 million through 2011.

-- These researchers have made progress. Australian researchers have discovered a way to manipulate stem cells into lung cells, which could one day treat cystic fibrosis.

--  Scientists from Singapore 's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology use stem cells to produce artificial kidneys, which could eliminate the need for kidney dialysis.

-- Researchers in other countries now author an increasing proportion of stem cell papers than those in the US. Foreign researchers have derived almost three-quarters of the world's new stem cell lines. Other nations have the money, the researchers, the facilities, and the new stem cell lines they need to move forward, learning more every day and laying the foundation for groundbreaking cures.

The President's decision is counter-intuitive – it's the very power and magnitude of US federal research that would permit the NIH to set national standards and ensure that research is carried out under ethical standards, something everyone supports. The President's veto prevents scientists from fully pursuing the full range of stem cell research, which offers hope to millions of disease-suffering individuals, as well as those who love and care for them. To be sure, there are important things about stem cell research that we don't fully understand and some of the potential cures may never come to pass, but unless government unshackles our scientists to continue their best work, we will never, ever know. The President's veto is a rejection of science, along with the hopes of millions.

Based on Senate floor statement of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, July 17, 2006

and the drain on Cleveland?

Who will go abroad because they can not continue their stem cell research at Cleveland Clinic? Does anyone know how CCF's research will be affected?

Genetic research for people -- no. Genetic research for Round-up Ready seed for Monsanto patents -- yes.

Which abridged version of the bible is this guy reading?!

I'd like to respond to the

I'd like to respond to the earlier post.  American scientists are making great strides with work on available stem cells, but there are limitations in their application for human cures.

Here's an example -- Researchers at Stanford University turned cells derived from mouse embryos into a basic unit of blood vessels.  This research may eventually contribute to the possible growth of new blood vessels, with promise for the care and treatment of heart disease.  However, under current rules, these researchers are not likely to have access to the human stem cell lines to conduct the necessary research. 

Here's another -- Several months ago, you may have read about a Johns Hopkins University research team that regenerated nerves in paralyzed rats using cells from mouse embryos.  After treatment, many of the rats regained enough strength to walk and bear weight.  Could scientists one day regenerate a severed spinal column?  Imagine what that could mean for a paraplegic or quadriplegic individual.  The next step is to use human cell lines, to be able to carry out that research on humans. 

The Chairman of the Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees, said: "Treatments not only for paralysis, but for ALS [Lou Gehrig's Disease], for multiple sclerosis, and similar diseases of the brain now seem possible.  The exact timeframe is impossible to predict, but it will almost certainly depend on the availability of Federal funding... The level of funding that will ultimately be required to advance this field of science to human trials, however, suggests that federal funding will be necessary.  Yet, under current Federal policy, the only stem cell lines eligible for Federal funding were created using mouse feeder cells and could never be used in clinical trials with humans. (emphasis added)" 

No single research tool is the sole solution, but it is the utilization of the full range of tools that creates the greatest opportunity for success. The scientists should be able to continue to work using all of the tools.  The President's veto is a rejection of science, along with the hopes of millions of patients and their families.

not manipulate human life and violate human dignity

A friend who is an internist says he can keep just about any human "life" living forever, with enough money, tubes and machines, so there are few limits of where we may go in medical intervention. Currently one of our greatest health care crises is the %age of babies born premature that in the past would not have been born at all or would have died - health care advances these days so often lead to worse health care crises requiring health providers to manipulate human life and violate human dignity. But I do not see stem cell research in the same light, as it seems focused on addressing serious diseases that may be cured or prevented, leading to non-interventive, cost saving healthcare. I'm glad you are making us more aware of the issues around stem cells as this is so complex.

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The impact of The lost opportunities effect us all

The impact of stem cell research and the lost opportunities for Americans effect us all. I can think of one very personal way it touches me. My cousin, now 7 years old suffers from cystic fibrosis. So far she is a happy and healthy second grader, like any other little kid her age, but, unless doctors come up with a cure for the rare and horrible genetic disease she has she is destined to die an agonizing death, probably in her 20s or 30s after a double lung transplant and other extreme procedures. Stem cell research is the only hope her parents have. Will this religious extremism in American politics come to an end in time to save my cousin or is it too late for her already?

I thought of Schiavo Bill, but you bring it home

When I think of Bush's rapturenomic positionas science brings us ever closer to unlocking the secrets of human biology, it also offers temptations to manipulate human life and violate human dignity" I tend to picture Bush drooling over the soul of Terri Schiavo, and of the violations of human dignity fundamentalist Republicans put her and all of America and the world through in manipulation of just that one already lost human life...

Despite protests from some Democrats who accused Republicans of inappropriately injecting Congress into medical decisions related to the severely brain damaged Florida woman, the House voted 203 to 58 for the bill at the end of four tumultuous days and an emotional debate that began Sunday night at 9 and ended shortly after midnight.

Voting yes were 156 Republicans and 47 Democrats, while 53 Democrats and 5 Republicans voted no.

The Senate, with no objections, approved the measure to intervene in the case Sunday afternoon by a voice vote with just a few senators on hand.

Your point about a relative with Cystic Fibrosis is more powerful, as she may have hope for a healthy life that is taken away by Bush

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