Years earlier, stem cell research in the USA suffered a set back when the new President George W Bush imposed some restrictions on the research especially on the embryonic stem cell research. The research had suffered for lack of proper funding.

Now, seven years later and despite repeated legislative and public statements in opposition, this restrictive policy has stood as a continual obstacle in the path to lifesaving cures. Hopefully the mass attitude towards the research has changed in those years as nearly two out of three people favoring it and more than 100 million potentially benefiting. Hopefully, the two new Presidential candidates supporters of relaxing the federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

Obama has stated his desire to move research forward, emphasizing his plan to expand, through executive order, funding to newly created stem cell lines only from IVF-fertilized eggs that are cryopreserved and otherwise would be discarded.

The main problem of the restrictions in stem cell research is the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which prohibits the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from creating embryos for the purposes of research. This precludes such procedures as somatic cell nuclear transfer or parthenogenesis, which have been extremely valuable in understanding disease development and immune responses to potential therapies. Obama’s policy is likely to fill the gap that Bush’s stagnant and impractical policy has created. This would be an important first step to help advance stem cell research in the United States, made in a bold statement that a change of course is drastically needed.

The another candidate John McCain ’s position on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research has proved more difficult to ascertain. During his tenure as a U.S. senator, McCain repeatedly voted in favor of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would have relaxed restrictions on funding for embryonic research. McCain’s focus has moved from funding for embryonic stem cell research to adult stem cell research, as he has asserted that embryonic research is “academic” and could lead down a “slippery slope” in science. Both of these arguments are inaccurate, unfair, and serve only to propagate the inflammatory misinformation that has dominated this debate since its existence.

This marks a significant and disturbing break from McCain’s previous and repeated support for expansion of federal funding for an embryonic stem cell research, a break that stands to become more pronounced as time and the pressures of partisanship march on.

Embryonic stem cell research was a topic in the recent forum at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., at which both presidential candidates discussed those issues most on the minds of evangelical voters.Embryonic stem cell research, and indeed stem cell research in all its forms, holds the very hope that millions of people base their lives on.

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer