The stem cell money trail


Ed Feulner argues in the Washington Times that the absence so far of major investment capital into embyronic stem cell research is telling. When medical research has to rely on the public sector for funding, it is often an indication of weak prospects. Investment capital, on the other hand, is rapidly moving into adult stem cell development, where there has been real progress already, and where  the research does not raise the ethical issues associated with embyonic stem cell development (and destruction).  

A close friend, who is a medical researcher and supports embryonic stem cell research (lest America get left behind in the wake of Korean and Israeli efforts), nonetheless believes that nothing particularly useful will come from the effort for at least ten years and maybe 20. 

California may be particularly hard pressed to usefully spend the $3 billion voters approved in 2004 for embryonic stem cell research over the next ten years. Inevitably, the money will get spent on something though. Referendum—supported public spending never fails to find a use.

The furor over embryonic stem cell research is in part the result of a political calculation by Democrats that they have found a wedge issue that works for them. Fear of being blamed for the President's restrictions led to the recent effort by several dozen moderate Republian members of the House to support a funding bill that would relax the President's current controls on embryonic stem cell research. If the public has been misled to believe  that all that is needed  to produce some modern medical miracles from work with embryonic stem cells, is more money, and fewer shackles on the research effort, it is a very difficult force to resist. This is especially the case if the critics are all lumped together as religious know—nothings and bigots, fighting the tide of medical breakthroughs.

Richard Baehr    6 9 05