Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Deo gratias!



Sitting here having a nutritious lunch of Cracker Jack, Tastycake Cream-filled Chocolate Cupcakes and Diet Coke with Lim -- how I do miss Smitty's in the summer. Smitty's is the little lunch spot on the first floor of Smith Hall where I work. It has actual nutritious food, like yogurt with strawberries & blueberries (my favorite) and turkey on wheat. But they close up in summer and so on days like this, when I forget to bring anything in for lunch, and I'm the only one manning the Media Center, it's Vending Snacks in all their glory for me.

Yesterday the sponsor of SB80, which would have brought destructive embryonic stem cell research to Delaware, tabled the bill until January of 2006. Considering that many representatives had not even read the bill, by their own admission, and considering that the Speaker of the House had decided to bring it to a floor vote without the House having heard any public testimony whatsoever, this was the only reasonable course of action for a bill of this importance in establishing ethical biotechnology research in the State. But when did reason ever stop legislators from passing ill-considered laws on a subject about which ignorance abounds? Providentially, it did so in Delaware, yesterday. Thanks be to God, and to all who prayed and struggled to communicate complex information on the science of stem cells and on bioethics to their legislators. And thanks to all who stood up and made their voices heard by their presence in Dover.

It's only a reprieve, and even now there are three days left in which the bill's House sponsor could turn around, reverse her decision, and persuade the House to take a vote. But a reprieve can be as good as a pardon in some cases.
Those of us who do not want to see humankind go down the tragic path of using human embryos for research purposes will have, in Delaware another six months to educate the public, the media and the legislature on the facts of adult stem cells (ASC) research.

Speaking of education -- t
his month's Journal of Molecular Biology of the Cell contains the startling results of the three years spent doing research on (ASC) at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. Dr. Huard (see below) received one of the largest funding for ASC ever three years ago. They have made very good use of their time and money:

"Scientists have typically believed that adult or post-natal stem cells grow old and die much sooner than embryonic stem cells, but this study demonstrates that is not the case," said Dr. Huard, senior author of the study. "The entire world is closely following the advances in stem cell research, and everyone is interested in the potential of stem cells to treat everything from diabetes to Parkinson's disease. But there are also many ethical concerns surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells, concerns that you don't have with post-natal or adult stem cells. My belief is that this study should erase doubts scientists may have had about the potential effectiveness of post-natal stem cells."

Researchers from Children's and the University of Pittsburgh in Dr. Huard's laboratory were able to expand post-natal stem cells to a population level comparable to that reached by researchers using embryonic stem cells. Previous research has found that embryonic stem cells could undergo more than 200 population doublings before the cells began to die. A population doubling is a method of measuring the age of a population of cells.

Read the whole story at Science Daily.

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