Monday, September 05, 2005

stem cells, part 3

So stem cells accumulate mutations and become so unstable over time, that they can produce tumors, Rick Weiss reports in today's Washington Post. Big surprise, but I guarantee that those who work on them will forge ahead, for fame and fortune, claiming all the while that a cure for Parkinson's or Alzheimer's is soon. Weiss states that many scientists take the finding as proof that they should create more stem cell lines, rather than as a cautionary note.

The BBC today carries a report from Britain that Lord Winston, president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, warns that stem cell hype has gotten out of hand and the inevitable failure to produce the promised results will provoke a backlash against biological research in particular and science in general. Stem cells resarch might lead to greater understanding of the cell, which in the long run should prove beneficial in development of treatments for those diseases, he says, but that's far different. It's time for scientists and science journalists to cut the hype.


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