July 31, 2005

Why Not Private Funding For Embryonic Stem Cell Research?

I found this interesting column raising issues about embryonic stem cell research. I think the point made is a good one.

Pro-embryonic stem-cell research proponents, like the snake-oil hucksters of old, have done a masterful job of rolling their wagon into the town square and selling the quick and easy.

Embryonic stem cells, they argue, hold the cures for everything from Alzheimer's to diabetes - if only embryonic stem cell research wasn't banned by the dark emperor, George W. Bush.

In truth, however, embryonic stem cell research hasn't been banned. Private labs have spent millions trying to see if healing potions could be unlocked using embryonic stem cells. But as the private sector money dried up, a push for federal funding ensued. Bush has said no to that.

Yet why does the private-money river mirror the Rio Grande trickling through the bosque? If this research truly promises cures for cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's, for example, private companies' stockholders should be counting their money, right?

Could it be that after years of such research, there is no honest indication that embryonic stem cells hold the keys to anything

Where is the private money for this research? Why the push for government funding? Is the problem that there has been a lack of results to justify private funding? If so, why the demand to throw money down what private industry has determined to be an unprofitible rat-hole?

This question isn't just an academic one for me. My wife suffers from a cluster of conditions that could benefit from stem cell research -- whether based upon adult stem cells, cord blood, or embryonic cells. I want to see good research done. What I don't want to see is money or opportunity wasted on bad research. That's why I'm suspicious of the push for embryonic stem cell research which seems to have yielded very little when adult stem cell research and cord blood research seems more promising.

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Comments on Why Not Private Funding For Embryonic Stem Cell Research?

Dear Greg:

There is actually a lot of private money flowing into embryonic stem cell research. Harvard, for example is working to raise $100 million for its new Stem Cell Institute. (See this article

You can read more on this issue here:

|| Posted by Spartacus, August 1, 2005 07:54 AM ||

I think that the government would spend as much as they could on almost anything if the congressman sponsoring such thought it would buy him even one more vote.

With that in mind I wonder how many automobile accidents are the result of nose picking. I think there should be a study, then regardless of the results, a ban on nose picking. This would include drivers and passengers. The nose picking police unit would have to be funded along with cameras being installed in all new vehicles, sensors on the underside of seat cushions to establish attempts to remove evidence. I can see this as a major platform issue in the future.

|| Posted by TF Stern, August 1, 2005 08:31 AM ||

Spartacus -- if the private funding is as plentiful as you indicate, why the need for federal funding? And if the private funding is scarce, why should the taxpayers step in and fund what the private sector views as unprofitable?

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, August 1, 2005 11:37 AM ||

The fact that Harvard is seeking $100m from others for Harvard research is not exactly a vote of investor confidence. Investment means Harvard spends a billion or so from their own endowment to fund the research.

Investors expect profit. And they don't yet see how they will get it from this research. It may be they are mistaken.

Don't confuse university fund-raising or donors dollars with investor analysis. Schools and donors have other goals - training, prestige, expansion, and faculty eager to advance science and their own careers.

|| Posted by K, August 1, 2005 07:21 PM ||
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