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Thread: Blair Lures Scientists as Bush Ban Stalls Science

  1. #1

    Blair Lures Scientists as Bush Ban Stalls Science

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...TKVy0&refer=uk

    Blair Lures Stem Cell Talent to U.K. as Bush Ban Stalls Science

    Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K., where scientists cracked the genetic code and created the first test-tube baby, is spending 100 million pounds ($177 million) to promote stem cell research that may help treat Alzheimer's disease and strokes.

    Prime Minister Tony Blair's initiative is supported by entrepreneurs including Virgin Group Ltd. founder Richard Branson and venture capitalist Jon Moulton. Britain's embrace of cutting- edge science is luring top researchers stymied by U.S. funding restrictions and may attract investors for start-up companies.

    ``I am here because I think this is the best place to do research on human embryonic stem cells,'' says Roger Pedersen, who moved to Cambridge University's Stem Cell Institute from the University of California at San Francisco in 2001. ``We're recruiting people constantly from the U.S.''

    <snip>

    More than 250 scientists in the U.K. are working on fertilized eggs left over from IVF treatments, says Alf Game, head of genetics at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council in Swindon, southern England.

    The new Stem Cell Foundation, led by Branson and Moulton, plans to raise money from private investors and seek matching funds from the U.K. government.

    <snip>

    Over the past three years, the U.K. government has set up 90 research labs across the country and established a stem cell bank at Potter's Bar, north of London. The bank, the first of its kind in the world, makes embryonic, fetal and adult stem cell lines available to scientists around the world.

    Now U.S.-based charities are turning to British labs for research. The New York-based Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, for example, spent one-third of its $6 million fund for stem cell research in the U.K. last year, says Ruth Best, a spokeswoman for the charity in London.

    more...
    Last edited by Wise Young; 02-01-2006 at 01:06 AM.

  2. #2
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    From an American economical point of view this might be bad, but for a treatment for i.e. SCI it might be good. If I was a scientist I would have gone where I was allowed to do the research I wanted and believed in. More researchers should go to the U.K. – Not only from the US but from other countries as well that bans this form for research.

    What are they waiting for? – And the fish and chips are not that bad.

  3. #3
    Senior Member KIM's Avatar
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    Blair Lures Scientists as Bush Ban Stalls Science

    Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K., where scientists cracked the genetic code and created the first test-tube baby, is spending 100 million pounds ($177 million) to promote stem cell research that may help treat Alzheimer's disease and strokes.

    Prime Minister Tony Blair's initiative is supported by entrepreneurs including Virgin Group Ltd. founder Richard Branson and venture capitalist Jon Moulton. Britain's embrace of cutting-edge science is luring top researchers stymied by U.S. funding restrictions and may attract investors for start-up companies.

    ``I am here because I think this is the best place to do research on human embryonic stem cells,'' says Roger Pedersen, who moved to Cambridge University's Stem Cell Institute from the University of California at San Francisco in 2001. ``We're recruiting people constantly from the U.S.''

    Blair is seizing an opportunity created by U.S. President George W. Bush's five-year-old ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. The financing is designed to help companies and universities develop treatments for disorders ranging from spinal cord injuries to liver disease and cut health-care costs borne by U.K. taxpayers.

    Embryonic stem cells, taken from surplus eggs produced by in-vitro fertilization, may provide replacement cells for damaged or diseased organs because they have the potential to grow into any type of tissue. Fetal or adult stem cells, which are taken from umbilical cords or bone marrow, have limited uses because they reproduce more slowly and may already have specialized.

    ``Stem cells could improve the human lot enormously,'' says Moulton, 54, founder of Alchemy Partners in London, which manages 2.3 billion pounds of assets. ``The pace needs stepping up.''

    Bush Ban

    Bush banned the use of federal funds for new embryonic stem cell experiments on Aug. 9, 2001, limiting scientists who get government money to experiments on previously created cell lines. Lawsuits and political wrangling have stalled efforts to raise state money for research in California, New Jersey and Wisconsin.

    The Bush administration's policy is driven by political debts to conservative groups, who oppose the destruction of embryos on ethical grounds, says Mark Frankel, director of the scientific freedom and responsibility program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.

    ``This administration wears its religious beliefs on its sleeve at times,'' Frankel says. ``Now you have a patchwork of different policies with different states. It's going to add to the confusion and provoke a brain drain.''

    Since 2001, the U.S. has fallen behind on biomedical research, says Charles Jennings, executive director of Harvard University's Stem Cell Institute.

    Korean Scandal

    ``The Bush administration's policy has slowed progress in the U.S., and other countries have seen this as an opportunity to compete with the U.S. from a position of strength,'' Jennings says. The Harvard center has raised around $30 million from private donors, which will run out by 2008.

    Stem cell research has been tarnished by a scandal involving South Korean scientist Hwang Woo Suk. Hwang resigned from his job as a professor at Seoul National University on Dec. 23, after admitting he faked research into cloning stem cells. His work had gained wide publicity because he created the world's first cloned dog, Snuppy, in August.

    The hoax may help Britain attract researchers because the country's stringent regulations on scientific research would prevent a similar controversy, says Michael Hunt, chief executive officer of Guildford, England-based ReNeuron Group Plc, one of the U.K.'s two publicly traded stem cell companies.

    ``From an ethical and regulatory perspective, the U.K. leads the field,'' Hunt says. ``Where regulation is less clear- cut, there is greater scope for activity that goes beyond reasonable ethical boundaries.''

    250 Scientists

    ReNeuron scientists are conducting clinical tests using adult stem cells to help restore the cognitive and motor functions of stroke victims. The company has received about 2.2 million pounds from the U.K. government. ReNeuron shares have dropped 8 percent to 23 pence since the company's initial public offering in August.

    More than 250 scientists in the U.K. are working on fertilized eggs left over from IVF treatments, says Alf Game, head of genetics at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council in Swindon, southern England.

    The new Stem Cell Foundation, led by Branson and Moulton, plans to raise money from private investors and seek matching funds from the U.K. government.

    The demand for returns means entrepreneurs are more likely to focus on the faster commercial potential of adult stem cells, says Stephen Minger, director of the Stem Cell Biology Laboratory at King's College in London. Minger, a former researcher at the University of Kentucky Medical School, moved to the U.K. in 1996.

    Tooth, Liver Cells

    Scientists are already conducting human tests on implanting stem cells to grow new teeth, Minger says. They are also testing whether bone marrow cells can be used for heart treatments.

    Blair faces fewer political pressures than Bush does from religious leaders. In May, Blair became the first Labour Party leader to win a third term, after securing support from the two biggest opposition parties for funding scientific research.

    In contrast, Bush was backed by 78 percent of white evangelical voters in the 2004 election, according to exit polls conducted by U.S. news organizations. Groups associated with the conservative Christian movement, including Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Focus on the Family, oppose embryonic stem cell research.

    ``The religious right is less strong and vociferous in this country,'' says Colin Blakemore CEO of the U.K. Medical Research Council in London. ``The U.K. is a pretty secular society. We are sentimental rather than doctrinal in our views.''

    `Force for Good'

    Britain has opted for a liberal stem cell policy, Austen Ivereigh, spokesman for the Archbishop of Westminter in London, said. ``Blair himself is a man of clear religious convictions, but on this issue, is not keen to take a stand.''

    Blair reflected that view on Nov. 17, 2004, when he outlined a five-year plan for science.

    ``We should have the confidence to recognize that science can be a force for good and grasp the opportunities that it presents to us,'' he said during a London speech.

    Blair, through spokesman Tom Kelly, declined to comment further on his decision to back embryonic stem cell research.

    Over the past three years, the U.K. government has set up 90 research labs across the country and established a stem cell bank at Potter's Bar, north of London. The bank, the first of its kind in the world, makes embryonic, fetal and adult stem cell lines available to scientists around the world.

    Now U.S.-based charities are turning to British labs for research. The New York-based Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, for example, spent one-third of its $6 million fund for stem cell research in the U.K. last year, says Ruth Best, a spokeswoman for the charity in London.

    `It's Just Chaos'

    ``We believe that stem cell research offers one of the best hopes for treatments and cures for diabetes,'' Best says. ``A lot of the best stem cell research is going on in the U.K.''

    In the U.S., individual states are ignoring federal funding restrictions and raising money for stem cell research. In November 2004, California voters backed a ballot initiative to provide as much as $350 million annually for stem cell research, a measure that was supported by Republicans such as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former first lady Nancy Reagan.

    Since then, creation of a proposed California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has been stalled by a lawsuit alleging that it isn't accountable to legislators.

    ``It's just chaos,'' says Minger of King's College. ``It's so politicized that there really is no debate about the science. U.S. scientists view it as a landmine and want to stay away from it.''

    Ethical Battle

    On May 24, 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 238-194 in favor of reversing the ban on federal funding. A similar measure stalled in the Senate after Bush pledged to veto any easing of restrictions.

    ``President Bush believes that we need to explore new methods of deriving new lines that would not result in embryos being destroyed,'' Trent Duffy, a White House deputy press secretary said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News. ``He feels that we should push the envelope of science in a way that does not cross fundamental moral and ethical lines.''

    British scientists say that by separating private beliefs from science, Blair has placed the U.K. in a position to benefit from innovation, making better use of the money U.K. taxpayers spend on health care. The government budgeted 90 billion pounds for medical services in the 2005-2006 fiscal year, 17 percent of total state spending.

    ``Within five years, some forms of stem cell therapy will be in use within the National Health Service to treat conditions like heart disease and, conceivably, diabetes,'' says the Medical Research Council's Blakemore.

    Stem cell research may also reduce the need for animal testing, currently required before drugs are tested on humans, and speed up development of medicines. A new treatment typically takes eight to 10 years to gain approval from U.S. regulators.

    ``Creating cell lines that can be used by pharmaceutical companies for drug testing is a very realizable goal that exists now,'' says Josh Brickman, a New York-born researcher now working at Institute for Stem Cell Science in Edinburgh.

  4. #4
    Kim, I already posted this in the FLA forum. Please look and post topics related to funding, legislation, and advocacy to that forum. Thank you. Wise.

  5. #5
    Senior Member KIM's Avatar
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    Ooops . Sorry

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    Kim. I have also done double postings, sometimes it can be difficult to check if the post is posted before just based on the heading… I have started to use the search option on CC for searching for specific words in the articles before posting.

    Good post though.

  7. #7
    This article, more than anything else should let our Congress know that their continued delay in funding stem cell research by NIH will result in more and more stem cell scientists leaving America for Europe. While scientists may not want to move for the scenary, scientists often will go to where they can do the best science. Wise.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Leif

    What are they waiting for? – And the fish and chips are not that bad.
    Indeed Leif - I can't argue with that. The weather - well that's another story. I was really pleased to hear a while back that Sir Branson was involved in the uk stem cell initiative - he's iconic and a great risk taker, a good person to have on side. I wrote to him a while ago about SCI, perhaps I will again. Anyone else?

    Sir Richard Branson,
    Virgin Management Limited,
    120, Campden Hill Road,
    London
    W8 7AR

  9. #9
    Banned Faye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherrylips
    Indeed Leif - I can't argue with that. The weather - well that's another story. I was really pleased to hear a while back that Sir Branson was involved in the uk stem cell initiative - he's iconic and a great risk taker, a good person to have on side. I wrote to him a while ago about SCI, perhaps I will again. Anyone else?

    Sir Richard Branson,
    Virgin Management Limited,
    120, Campden Hill Road,
    London
    W8 7AR
    I'll do it too,........after all Jason is half British , and besides Branson thinks GLOBAL!!

    "There’s far too much unthinking respect given to authority,” Molly Ivins explained; “What you need is sustained outrage.”
    Kerr, Keirstead, McDonald, Stice and Jun Yan courageously work on ESCR to Cure SCI.

    Divisiveness comes from not following Christopher Reeve's ESCR lead.
    Young does ASCR.
    [I]I do not tear down CRPA, I ONLY make peopl

  10. #10
    Senior Member roshni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    This article, more than anything else should let our Congress know that their continued delay in funding stem cell research by NIH will result in more and more stem cell scientists leaving America for Europe. While scientists may not want to move for the scenary, scientists often will go to where they can do the best science. Wise.
    Brain drain?

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