September 10, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Nature Backpedals Over Stem-Cell Hype

After Nature printed an upbeat press release last month that stem cells could be extracted without killing an embryo (see 08/25/2006), critics found that the experiment did indeed kill the embryos.  Also, it turns out none of the stem cell lines survived, and that more than one cell had been extracted from the embryos, contrary to claims made in the press.
    Associated Press reported (see Fox News) that Advanced Cell Technology was accused before a Senate hearing of misrepresenting its research and of hyping a technique before it was shown to work.  Nature Science Update wrote a response apologizing for the misrepresentation.  They said that even though the article contained the facts about the destruction of the embryos in its supplementary material, it should have clarified that the research only showed that the technique might work in principle.

Only the scrutiny of the public is going to prevent abuse in the stem-cell gold rush.  Nature was originally praised for coming up with an “ethical” way to harvest embryonic stem cells, but look how ethical it turned out to be.  There is big money and ambition shoving ES research on this country, in spite of the fact that it has no track record (while adult stem cell research is already saving lives).  Don’t expect the researchers or science journals to act in morally responsible ways when eyes are glazed over with dreams of fame and prize money.
    There is a detailed analysis of stem cell hype and politics in Ann Coulter’s recent best-selling book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism.

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Categories: Politics and Ethics

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