Sunday, April 19, 2009

First Oprah, now Al Gore… realism is breaking out all over

It has long been clear that smart private money is fleeing cloning and embryo experimentation in favour of iPS, while only dumb public money - as promised by Obama - will prop up that redundant science. In order, it seems, to prop up the cultural triumph over Bush and his obscurantist ilk.


Forgetting the inconvenient truth that it was Bush whose ethically-targeted funding made this magnificent iPS discovery possible, Al Gore, of hanging chad and Supreme court appeal fame, is now standing to profit from Bush's smart move. And all the best to him. But there has been no more satisfying demonstration of the true future of stem cell science than this week's announcement that the former vice-President is putting $20 million into the "hot area of 'induced pluripotent' stem cells."


"I think", says Gore, "this is one of those good news stories that comes along every once in a while… It's a very important breakthrough that is filled with promise and hope."


Journalists are intelligently stating the ethical, as well as scientific, advantage of iPS: "Human embryonic stem cells are controversial because their creation requires the destruction of early-stage embryos. Induced cells do not."


Interestingly, cloning of embryos to get matched stem cells is rarely getting a mention in reports on stem cell science these days; again, smart money can see no justification in pursuing the never-achieved and expensive goal of cloning yourself into a twin embryo in order to extract (still-imperfectly-matched) ES cells, when any corner lab can get the exact same (and perfectly matched) cells from a speck of your skin.


In this report, Robert Lanza is quoted as having 'cloned embryonic stem cells'. He did not. Nobody has got a cloned embryo to that advanced stage yet. Not a single ES cell from all of cloning's millions of dollars and incalculable abuses of human life. By contrast, iPS is "one of those good news stories" both scientifically and socially – and Lanza wryly remarks: "It's great that Al Gore supports iPS reseach, but who doesn't? Even the pope and the Catholic Church are on board." Apparently that odious company is not enough to deter fellow traveller Gore, and AESCR is very glad to have him – and Oprah – and all reasonable people – on board.


Article at