Oh, the screaming we heard about embryonic stem cells during the George W. Bush presidency. Those who opposed wide-open federal funding were branded “anti-science,” and delusional for claiming that adult stem cells offered the better promise of treatments. The media pushed the tripe that people who supported Bush’s very modest funding restrictions didn’t want people healed of terrible diseases. It was a time of hysteria and demagoguery that did not permit reasoned debate.
It was also a time of political advantage-taking. California voters foolishly passed a $3 billion bond measure — since renewed — in which the broke state borrowed money to throw money at human cloning and embryonic-stem-cell research (ESCR). New York began funding such studies in 2007.
But guess what? ESCR has not led to CURES! CURES! CURES! as the hype had it. Indeed, after all these years, there have been very few clinical trials using embryonic products — and no FDA approved therapy of which I am aware.
In contrast, adult-stem-cell research is thriving and induced pluripotent stem cells — that is, stem cells made from skin — are bringing great benefit to science and medicine in just the way President Bush predicted.
Now, New York is pulling the plug on ESCR funding. From the Science story:
The cancellation of the New York State Stem Cell Science program (NYSTEM) is contained in a budget for 2022, which the state Legislature approved last week and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed. The spending plan, which takes effect 1 May, halts funding for new grants, but honors existing contracts until they expire. A spokesperson for the state Division of the Budget, which has allocated the program’s funds for the Department of Health, told Science that stem cell research should “advance within academic and private research communities rather than the Department of Health, which is focused on its core mission of delivering direct services and achieving positive health outcomes for all New Yorkers.”
Well, waddya know about that. The “anti-science” crowd had the better argument all along.