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Nancy Reagan Endorses Human Embryo Research

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by MacNut, May 10, 2004.

  1. macrumors Core


    Nancy Reagan Endorses Human Embryo Research

    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (May 10) - As President Bush resists mounting pressure to loosen the restrictions he placed on human embryonic stem-cell research, Hollywood's supporting role in the debate this election year is growing.

    Celebrities including Nancy Reagan, Dustin Hoffman, Michael J. Fox and Larry King raised $2 million for stem-cell research Saturday night at a gala for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The money is part of nearly $20 million that the foundation is donating to advance stem-cell research.

    A Parkinson's disease foundation run by Fox, who suffers from the degenerative nerve condition, has contributed another $10 million.

    ''Science has presented us with a hope called stem cell research," Reagan said at Saturday's benefit.

    The star power is providing frustrated scientists and patients with additional muscle in a lobbying campaign against Bush's policy, which limits federal funding for research on human embryonic stem cells to colonies created before August 2001.

    Stem cells are the body's building blocks and have the potential to become many different types of cells. Scientists believe the cells can be coaxed into specific cells to repair organs or treat diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

    Stem cells are typically taken from days-old human embryos. Because the human embryos are destroyed when the stem cells are extracted, the process is highly controversial.

    Saturday's dinner featured a rare public appearance by former first lady Reagan, who renewed her call for an expansion of the research. Former President Ronald Reagan suffers from Alzheimer's disease and his wife believes stem cells might someday provide a cure.

    "Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place where I can no longer reach him,'' she said. "Because of this I'm determined to do whatever I can to save other families from this pain.''

    A growing number of federal lawmakers - including several staunch anti-abortion Republicans and party stalwarts like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is also a heart surgeon - also are lobbying Bush to reconsider his policy.

    Last month, 206 members of Congress, including several conservative Republicans, sent Bush a letter calling on him to reconsider his stem-cell policy.

    The Bush administration said it has no plans to change its policy.

    Still, Hollywood money is pouring in. Moviemakers Jerry and Janet Zucker have contributed more than $50,000 to a campaign to get a bond measure on California's ballot that would provide $3 billion in stem-cell research funds to the state's biotechnology industry.

    "People from Hollywood have always supported this,'' said Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation chief executive Peter Van Etten. The foundation has contributed $500,000 to the California campaign.

    The Zuckers said they donated money because their 16-year-old daughter has diabetes.

    "When Katie was diagnosed five years ago we promised we would do everything in our power to find a cure,'' said Jerry Zucker, who directed the 1990 film "Ghost.''
  2. macrumors 68040


    What would Reagan say though if restored to his faculties by a process that he found morally abhorrent?

    They have been doing some studies though that show better results using somatic(adult) stem cells rather than embryonic. There is also research that demonstrated the ability to create adult stem cells from liposomes (fat cells!)

    Hopefully in a couple of decades embryonic cell research will be seen as an archaic travesty like trepanning and blood-letting.
  3. macrumors 68040


    Funny that scientists can hoot and holler all they want and nothing gets done. Yet a few celebs can get the ball rolling. What does it say about a society when we are more willing to listen to our celebrities about scientific matters than scientists?
  4. macrumors 603


    i'll admit, i'm surprised she did this. i agree that Ronald would probably be at odds with this concept, which makes me think she's a bit selfish to ignore his wishes (but i don't know that for a fact). Tho if my husband was in such a state, i'd do just about anything to cure it.

    My primary objection to stem cell research is that it would build an industry on human tissue, in a way that's never been done before. Moreover, tissue from female bodies. The potential exploitation needs to be dealt with carefully, to ensure that eggs are ethically harvested. Feminists seem blind to this because of the obvious abortion link.

    Of course, with the advent of cloning, stem cell research won't always be dependent on tissue harvested from humans...

  5. macrumors 68040


    All current methods of cloning require eggs from the same or a closely related species. The who-ha over cross species cloning is insane even when dealing with sheep and goats.
  6. macrumors Core


    But would Ronald want to cure the disease before it starts, its to late for him now but if he knew of what would of happened to him years ago before the effects started he might want the research now.
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Another method of harvesting stem cells involves using umbilical cord blood. When my daughter was born last December, I had her cord sent to a facility that stores cord blood. I am hoping that stem cell research advances quickly so that my son, who has cerebral palsy, may benefit from it.
  8. macrumors 6502a


    A very good point. I sympathise with all those afflicted by diseases like this, believe me I have a couple friends/family members who this could really benefit BUT its really a matter of the ends justifying the means. Good intentions but I don't think the cost is worth it.
  9. macrumors P6


    Senators call to ease stem cell restrictions

    By Gareth Cook, Globe Staff *|* June 2, 2004

    A majority of the US Senate has signed a letter asking President Bush to lift the government's funding restrictions on embryonic stem cells, increasing the pressure to change a policy critics say is holding back potentially lifesaving medical research.

    The letter, which is still being circulated for signatures and has not yet been released, says the United States is falling behind in research into diseases "that affect more than 100 million Americans" and calls on the president to "expand" the current policy. It has been signed by 56 senators, including conservatives Trent Lott of Mississippi, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, and 10 other Republicans.

    Human embryonic stem cells are potent cells that can create any type of tissue in the human body and are thought to have great promise for fighting diseases that afflict millions of Americans. Because they can be created only by destroying a human embryo, the use of the cells for research is highly controversial, and three years ago President Bush declared the government would no longer pay for any research on new lines of stem cells.

  10. macrumors 6502a

    Couldn't they just use the tissues from aborted fetuses? Maybe just wait until the end of the 3rd trimester and then use the aborted fetus for stem cell research.

    I don't see why government has a role in the funding anyway? Couldn't stem cell research be funded via the private sector? If the government isn't funding it, then that is taxes that is not taken from the private sector that could be used to fund stem cell research, or anything else, for that matter.
  11. macrumors regular

    There are a few sources of private funding, and a few American scientists taking advantage of them. But the vast majority of the scientific enterprise in the United States is supported, at least in some small way, by government funding. (As a taxpayer, I'm quite happy with this. Better my taxes than a private corporation that will have its own reasons for biasing the research.) For instance -- every academic scientist who works for a public university. I don't know the rules on this for certain, but the administration has a habit of making sweeping bans (instead of refusing to fund "bad" activity A but allowing "good" activities B and C, for instance, they refuse to give any money at all to an organization that spends a small amount of their time on A and most on B and C). I worked on a cloning paper several months ago, from an institution in another country, and one of the minor authors was from a U.S. university. There were some counsel-advised contortions to make sure it was clear to all that he hadn't touched the actual experimental cells with a ten-foot pole. I wouldn't be surprised if similar concerns kept many American scientists away from the field, for fear of losing their positions or the rest of their funding.

    I also wouldn't be surprised if, 10 years from now, people wondered what all this fuss was about. Embryonic stem cells are already beginning to lose their glamour among scientists, and I truly believe the people clinging to the hope of ESCs are clinging to just that -- a hope, and no more. The scientific promise isn't all it was made out to be several years ago, and in this case I _don't_ believe the (scientifically) questionable ends justify the means.
  12. macrumors 68040


    Then pray tell why you so strongly support government funding of NMD research... :rolleyes: :eek: :D
  13. macrumors 6502a

    You make it sound like only private corporations can bias their research and that all government funded research are unbiased. You have heard of the cost overruns in the various government funded project out there, especially with the military. But just forget about that for a moment.

    The advantage of private funding is that we, as taxpayers, do not lose anything if the private endeavor were to fall flat on its scientific face. Sure, the private investors would soak up all of the losses, but they did so willingly.

    Now, back to biased research. Nature does not tolerate hoaxes at all. If the research is flawed, there is nothing that will turn it from a failure into a success. You can't fool cells into believing that it is regenerating with flawed research. Either the research is sound, or its not, and the private funding mechanism enforces that the research is sound, or the funding goes away. Not so with government funded projects where the funding is determined by political goals.
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Isn't it the proper role of government to provide for the common defense?
  15. macrumors 65816


    I can't wait to see how Medi-care will fare once the average age of death his 90 because of all our medical advances. :D
  16. macrumors 68000


    Liposomes are tiny spheres which have the same membrane as cells (phospholipid bilayer). They can be used to deliver DNA and drugs into cells and are frequently used in gene therapy. Adipocytes are fat cells.

    Which article did you read that stated that liposomes can induce cells to dedifferentiate? I'd be interested in taking a look at this article.
  17. macrumors Penryn


    So you'd only be for it if your husband was in a state that could possibly be cured from stem cell research? Isn't that a bit self-serving?

    And Nancy supports this because she can think on her own. I don't think it has anything to do with her being selfish. They can have differing opinions and still be loyal to each other.

    And like someone already mentioned, couldn't they just use dead foetuses?
  18. macrumors 68040


    I misspoke then. my brain pulled the wrong word. It was fat cells de-differentiating and I thought I had the right word for a fat cell.

    I can't find the one on fat :( here are two though one on skin and one on blood.

  19. macrumors 68040


    By your reasoning, shouldn't the government 'provide for the common defense' by purchasing a working system from a private company? Oh wait, in Frohickey world boondogles are allowed as long as the product is military related. :rolleyes: :eek: :D
  20. macrumors 6502a

    Thats your reading of it.

    It would be nice if 'providing for the common defense' is via purchasing a working system from private companies. That way, us mere citizens have access to these working systems as well, if we have enough cash to pay for it. :p

    Besides, have you heard of economies of scale? Imagine how much a lot of what the government buys for defense would drop in price if it were also available for the civilian market. Military GPS units come to mind.
  21. macrumors 68040


    No, that's what you've argued many times. Private industry is to be used to solve all market issues.

    Ah yes, citizens indeed should be able to purchase anything the military can. I wonder why it is that they can't?

    Most of what the government buys for defense IS available in the civilian market. Unless you are only talking about weapons. The military buys food and gas and tents and water purification and all manner of goods that you or I can buy. I can't believe you've never been to an Army Surplus store! :eek: :D :rolleyes:
  22. macrumors P6


    Other Approaches May Trump Stem Cells In Alzheimer's Research

    Researcher: Stem-Cell Studies Should Still Begin Now

    POSTED: 12:12 pm EDT June 11, 2004
    NEW YORK -- Despite the high profile that Nancy Reagan and others have given the idea of using embryonic stem cells to treat Alzheimer's disease, advances are likely to come faster from other approaches.

    Experts cite other more promising efforts that in five to 10 years may be used to fight the disease that led to former President Ronald Reagan's death.

    "I just think everybody feels there are higher priorities for seeking effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease and for identifying preventive strategies," said Marilyn Albert, a Johns Hopkins University researcher who chairs the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council of the Alzheimer's Association.

  23. macrumors 6502

    Is this to say that a clone of a human (research path currently outlawed in US), wouldn't also be a human?
  24. macrumors 65816


    Not if the technology could eventually be used to clone specific body parts, tissues, or what have you, which is part of the possibilities expounded upon by stem-cell research advocates. The general idea is that if we could unlock what makes a cell do one thing or another, we could control that process in ourselves as well. How practical all that really is remains to be seen or studied.

    Given the fuss being made about the destruction of embryos for research purposes being equivalent to an abortion, do you really think this is going to mollify anyone? The whole point of those opposed to embryonic stem-cell research is that they're trying to prevent abortions, not think of uses for aborted fetuses.
  25. macrumors 68000


    She could always take some of the money she was left and buy a small G5 cluster and run Folding@Home. That could be more promising for Alzheimer's than stem cells... ;)

    Seriously though, I think she is probably letting emotion get in the way of this decision to endorse the stem cell research and not thinking through the facts.

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