Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Liberal media silent as ESCR pioneer Geron halts ESCR research

Here’s the story from CBS News.

Excerpt:

The company doing the first government-approved test of embryonic stem cell therapy is discontinuing further stem cell work, a move with stark implications for a field offering hope of future medicines for conditions with inadequate or no current treatments.

Geron Corp., a pioneer in stem cell research that has been testing a spinal cord injury treatment, said late Monday that it’s halting development of its stem cell programs to conserve funds. It is seeking partners to take on the programs’ assets and is laying off much of its staff.

[...]The company is eliminating 66 full-time jobs, or 38 percent of its staff, a process that will bring about $8 million in costs— about $5 million in the current quarter and about $3 million in the first half of 2012.

Now consider this article in the Weekly Standard by Wesley J. Smith. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

For years, the media touted the promise of embryonic stem cells. Year after year, Geron Corporation announced that its embryonic stem cell treatment for acute spinal cord injury would receive FDA approval “next year” for human testing. And year after year, the media dutifully informed readers and viewers that cures were imminent. When the FDA finally did approve a tiny human trial for 10 patients in January 2009, the news exploded around the world. This was it: The era of embryonic stem cell therapy had arrived!

Not exactly. Last week, Geron issued a terse statement announcing it was not only canceling the study, but abandoning the embryonic stem cell field altogether for financial reasons.

You would think Geron’s failure would be very big news. Instead, it turns out that the mainstream media pay attention only when embryonic stem cell research seems to be succeeding—so far, almost exclusively in animal studies. When, as here, it crashes and burns, it is scarcely news at all.

[M]ost of the same news outlets that gave Geron star treatment when it was heralding supposed breakthroughs provided only muted coverage of the company’s retreat into producing anti-cancer drugs.

The Los Angeles Times may be the most egregious offender. A chronic booster of Geron’s embryonic stem cell research, it reported the FDA’s approval of a human trial on January 24, 2009, in a story that began, “Ushering in a new era in medicine .  .  . ” The paper stayed on the story. In October 2010, it reported that the first patient had received an injection, then a few days later it ran a feature about the study under the headline “Hope for Spinal Cord Patients.” During the same period, however, the paper did not report the encouraging results of early human trials of treatments for spinal cord injury developed using adult stem cells.

Then last May, the Times celebrated the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine’s $25 million loan to support Geron’s study, noting that the company’s stem cell product had performed as hoped in rat -studies. Yet the day after Geron’s embryonic stem cell research unit was laid off, the Times couldn’t find the space to print the story, though the following day a blog entry ran on the Times website.

The vast majority (all?) of medical successes with stem cell research have come from ethical adult stem-cell research. Adult stem cell research does not kill unborn children. And that’s why it doesn’t draw funding from pro-abortion politicians or get positive coverage by pro-abortion media outlets. The politics is driving the science – just like with global warming research and alternative energy funding.

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5 Responses

  1. KelliD says:

    My cousin died of cancer yesterday. He had started receiving some kind of experimental stem cell treatment earlier this year, but after a few months they told him it wasn’t working and that he was too far gone to continue. He came to visit us last month to say goodbye.

    I don’t know exactly what kind of stem cell treatment it was. It never seemed like a good time to ask. I may try to find out later, at a more appropriate time.

  2. NPR Science Friday had a segment on it. To their credit (as much as I’m often critical of them), they mentioned the success of and hope in other forms of stem cell research. But they did seem to place much of the economic failure of it blame more on all the regulation, rather than the fact that it just wasn’t working and all the dangers involved.

    A number of years ago, I heard that business-wise, much of the push for embryonic was a matter of patents. In other words, if you derive a ‘product’ from a persons own cells, you only have a procedure, not a hard product to sell. That makes sense to me, though I’ve never heard that again anywhere.

    Then, of course, there is the ethical side where those who favor abortion wouldn’t want to give any here…. as well as the scientists who don’t want to be told what they can and can’t do (the usual slant implied on SciFri).

  3. [...] in stem cell research. ESCR is supported by Democrats, but it is ineffective – which is why biotech companies like Geron have abandoned it. Nevertheless, Obama has pushed millions of taxpayer dollars into embryonic stem cell research, [...]

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