Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Is Embryonic Stem Cell Research Done?

“Has research on embryonic stem cells come to the end of the line” is the first line in an article, by Alessandro Speciale, published earlier this week in the Vatican Insider. The article is titled “The end of the line for stem cells”. I obviously got really excited because we all know what the Catholic Church’s position is on the subject of embryonic stem cell research and this is therefore potentially really good news.

Geron announced on November 14, 2011, that it had decided to “discontinue further development of its stem cell programs” in a news release titled, “Geron to Focus on its Novel Cancer Programs”. The company has apparently invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the embryonic stem cell research program, without any successes whatsoever. It should be noted that despite the size of the investment, only 4, of the planned 11 patients, ever received treatment, without any successes recorded as yet.

In his article Alessandro Speciale rightly states that, “the impact of Geron's about-turn – which has provoked the wrath of patients and investors alike – could signal the end of a sector of research already profoundly marked by ethical problems.

Embryonic stem cell research was dealt another blow when Roger Pedersen, of the University of Cambridge, stated that: “The progress made in research on stem cells implies revolutionary steps forward that have the potential to make previous successes take a back seat, including embryonic stem cells.” Pedersen is one of the most esteemed scientists in the field of stem cell research.

This decision, by Geron, means that there is now only one company in the world, Advanced Cell Technology, still engaged in embryonic stem cell research. I wonder how many more millions of dollars they intend to waste on research that clearly is having no success whatsoever? I was going to ask how many more individual human lives they are planning to kill, but I think the point is completely lost on them!

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