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Monday, April 30, 2007
Blumer Misleads on Stem Cell Research
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 27 NewsBusters post by Tom Blumer claimed that an apparent possible treatment involving adult stem cells was made by "a company more interested in advancing human health than in generating unsupported hype" -- that is, doing research involving embryonic stem cells. Blumer concludes: "Five or ten years from now, will we be asking ourselves how many lives that could have been saved or improved by adult and other non-embryonic stem cell research efforts were instead sacrificed because of money diverted to the black hole of embryonic stem cell research?"

That statement assume something for which Blumer provides no evidence -- that embryonic stem cell research is being conducted at the expense of adult stem cell research. Given Blumer's reporting of the results of adult stem cell research, that appears not to be true. While he asserts that adult stem cell research "largely ISN'T where the funding, especially the public funding, is going," he offers no evidence to back up the claim, further ignoring that newer, more experimental research tends to attract public research money because a direct payoff isn't guaranteed. If adult stem cell research is the rousing success Blumer portrays it as, it doesn't need public funding; it should be able to find sufficient private, profit-oriented funding.

Further in describing embryonic stem cell reserarch as a "black hole," Blumer fails to note that while decades of research has been done on adult stem cells, human embryonic stem cells were not isolated until 1998. In other words, given the decades-long head start of adult stem cell research, it's too early to tell whether embryonic stem cell research is the "black hole" Blumer portrays it as. That's why you do research, right? Adult stem cell research probably didn't result in useful treatments the first time either, something Blumer shows no interest in investigating.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:06 AM EDT

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