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A Cure for Nothing

November 15, 2011

From the Washington Post (thanks to NRO, by the way), comes this story:

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.

Geron had been getting government funding for its existing stem cell lines from the government, but that dried up as far as new lines.  The article says they’ve recently introduced a new treatment, but I couldn’t tell from some research as to whether this was something that was government funded or not.  I’d guess not, since they’re saying it’s too expensive.

Medicine is an amazing thing, and I’m a firm believer in using technology in new ways to do wonderful things… to a point.  I am not a supporter of any embryonic testing, and I applauded the government’s cessation of funding for this direction.  So while this line goes the way of the wildebeast, adult stem cell treatments seem to be progressing nicely in a variety of ways, and it appears that scientists are very successfully finding new ways to generate more adult stem cells.

To some extent, this is all a pretty futile endeavor.  I’m fond of saying that the leading cause of death is birth.  We all end at some point, and some lives end tragically short on this side (both for us, and for the people who could have been saved in the next world, but chose not… but that’s a different post).  But I would like to see a better understanding of medicine to heal those who are damaged here, and it’s clear that that will have to come from a line of research that’s profitable.

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