May 20, 2005
Bush vs. progress, again
Another medical breakthrough that could save many lives:
British scientists have created a cloned human embryo for the first time, placing the country in the vanguard of a technology with the potential to cure conditions such as Parkinson’s, diabetes and paralysis. The Newcastle University team has become only the second to achieve the feat, crowning a momentous day that underlines the pace at which the science is moving.
Their announcement came as the South Korean researchers who pioneered human cloning last year announced breakthroughs that bring its medical promise closer to reality. In 15 months, the group led by Professor Woo Suk Hwang, of Seoul National University, has dramatically improved its techniques and established a production line for cloned cells. It has now made 11 batches with genes from patients.
These advances pave the way for using cloned embryonic stem cells — master cells that can form any tissue in the body — to create spare part tissue for treating disease. Stem cells could eventually be taken from cloned embryos that are genetically identical to patients and grown into replacements for damaged tissue. These cells would carry the patient’s genes and could be transplanted without risk of rejection by the immune system.
While therapies for Parkinson’s or diabetes are probably a decade away, other benefits could come more quickly. Cloned cells are also valuable for testing drugs, possibly providing an alternative to animal experiments.
And yes, I know it was inevitable in a theocracy that Bush would gag on this—but that doesn’t make it any less depressing:
President Bush on Friday said he would veto legislation that would loosen restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and expressed deep concern about human cloning research in South Korea. “I’m very concerned about cloning,” the president said. “I worry about a world in which cloning becomes accepted.”
…The president also threatened a veto of legislation that would clear the way for taxpayer money to be spent on embryonic stem cell research. …”I made very clear to Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayer’s money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life - I’m against that,” Bush said. “Therefore, if the bill does that, I would veto it.”
Bush began his day at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, where he was cheered for urging people to “pray that America uses the gift of freedom to build a culture of life.”
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