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Thread: A rebuttal to a stem cell research opponent in New Jersey

  1. #1

    A rebuttal to a stem cell research opponent in New Jersey

    In the Courier Post this morning, there was a letter written by an opponent to the $250 million stem cell bill that is being considered in the New Jersey legislature to fund the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. It has the standard arguments against stem cell research and I thought that I would write a rebuttal.
    Stem cells

    Thursday, March 23, 2006

    Two bills are racing through the New Jersey Legislature to authorize more than $200 million for stem cell research. This is both morally and fiscally indefensible.

    Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of early human life. It is fraught with complications and has not yielded a single success in human patients. Why are our legislators so anxious to fund research private investors have been very reluctant to pursue, especially when our state is facing perhaps a $4 billion deficit?

    Adult stem cell research is not burdened with ethical problems and has had documented success for thousands of patients in clinical trials. Even the most noble ends do not justify all means.

    Let's limit public funding to adult stem cell research that offers the greatest promise. It's research everybody can live with.

    TRACYE McARDLE Voorhees
    Although I do not doubt the good intentions of Tracye McArdle Voorhees who wrote the above letter, I disagree with her assumptions and conclusions.


    The New Jersey Senate passed and the Assembly is now considering a $250 million bond that will be backed by cigarette taxes: $150 million of the bond will be for building a state-of-the-art Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey (SCINJ) in New Brunswick while $50 million will be allocated to medical science building in Camden and $50 million for a building at NJIT in Newark. The SCINJ will do all stem cell research, including umbilical cord blood, bone marrow, and embryonic stem cell research. The legislature is considering a bond referendum for the November 2006 ballot to provide $230 million over 10 years for stem cell research.

    In 2001, President Bush restricted federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research to embryonic cell lines created before 2001. In 2005, the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) funded less than $240 million of human stem cell research, of which about $200 million was for adult and umbilical cord blood stem cells and about $35 million was for embryonic stem cell research. President Bush thought 68 embryonic stem cell lines were available but only 22 were actually embryonic stem cell lines and most were not available for research. To make matters worse, President Bush not only did not increase NIH budget for stem cell research but threatens to veto bills passed in Congress to fund such research.

    The United States has fallen behind and lost its leadership role in stem cell research, widely considered by scientists to be the most promising area of biomedical research. Countries such as the United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and even Australia are investing more into stem cell research than the United States. New Jersey was the first state to invest in stem cell research. Although California has passed a $3 billion bond to support stem cell research, the bonds are tied up in lawsuits. Other states recently passed laws to fund stem cell research, including Connecticut and Maryland. Unless New Jersey acts quickly on this matter, it will lose the opportunity to lead.

    New Jersey Stem Cell Research

    New Jersey stem cell research is moral. The funding will support all forms of stem cell research, including adult, umbilical cord, and embryonic. The research will save lives and restore function to thousands of people in New Jersey and millions of people worldwide. Embryonic stem cell research has nothing to do with abortions. The cells are derived from in vitro fertilized embryos that are being discarded by their parents. Passage of the bill will not change the number of embryos that are being thrown away. It just ensures that some of the embryos will be used to save lives. All the research will be rigorously peer-reviewed for scientific merit and ethical conduct.
    State support of stem cell research is fiscally sound. The $250 million bond will be supported by cigarette taxes. Thus, it does not impose any load on the budget deficit of New Jersey and I cannot imagine a better way to spend cigarette tax money. A recent study conservatively estimated that the proposed investment into stem cell research will yield many billions in jobs, revenue, and benefits for New Jersey. It will increase income to New Jersey in the coming ten years and may be the best investment that New Jersey can make for its future.
    The bond will fund a state-of-the-art stem cell institute in New Jersey. New Jersey does not have a critical mass of scientists necessary to take a leadership role in stem cell research in the nation and the world. The bond will provide funds and facilities to attract the best stem cell scientists to New Jersey. It will encourage pharmaceutical and biotechnical companies to establish their research programs in the state. It will boost life sciences research at Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. It will accelerate movement of stem cell therapies from laboratory to clinic, not only for the people of New Jersey but the world.
    We must allow science to go forward. Someday, adult and umbilical cord blood stem cell treatments will provide cures for many conditions. However, at the present, adult stem cells are not yet curing neurological and other conditions. Embryonic stem cells possess capabilities that adult and neonatal stem cells do not have. Scientists must be allowed to study them. Allowing science to go ahead will lead us sooner to the day when we can convert any cell into a stem cell. After all, a stem cell is just a cell expressing certain genes. At the present, the science is not sufficiently advanced for pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies to invest substantially into the research. SCINJ will work closely with industry to develop foundational technologies that will allow stem cells to be come available to millions of people.

    Wise Young, Ph.D. M.D.
    Professor II and Chair
    Department of Cell Biology & Neuroscience
    The W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience
    Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
    Piscataway, New Jersey 08854-8087
    Last edited by Wise Young; 03-26-2006 at 01:25 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    I sincerely hope that someone will listen to you Dr. Wise. To much are at stake here. Thank you.
    Last edited by Leif; 03-26-2006 at 12:39 PM.

  3. #3
    Let's see if the Courier Post will publish it. I sent it in.

    Others may want to post their own letters. They do have a limit of 250 words. What I sent in was considerably more and they will probably edit it.

    Last edited by Wise Young; 03-26-2006 at 01:30 PM.

  4. #4

    Thumbs up

    Thanks Dr. Young.
    If it's OK, I am going to paraphrase and plagiarize part of your letter as a response to a letter about a week ago in a local newspaper here.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by carl
    Thanks Dr. Young.
    If it's OK, I am going to paraphrase and plagiarize part of your letter as a response to a letter about a week ago in a local newspaper here.
    Carl, yes, of course, it is okay. Wise.

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