ddn Online

The Blog of Drug Discovery News

Unintended advantages?

Random odd thoughts are the bane of my existence sometimes. They’ll come visit, and flit in and out of my consciousness for weeks or months like some bug trying to find its way out of the house and buzzing around annoyingly until it can.

Well, this blog will at least finally provide me a place to unload some of those thoughts (as long as they are pharma-related in some way) and eliminate some of those buzzing sounds.

In this case, after posting on our website this story on a genome-wide study of human stem cells, I was reminded of a thought that has been nagging me more and more since the study of adult human stem cells has picked up in recent years and I’ve seen increasing numbers of breakthroughs related to them. And that thought was: Did the bans related to the use of embryonic human stem cells that marked much of the start of the 21st century actually have an unintended positive effect?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not laying down moral judgments about the use of embryonic stem cells in research and perhaps therapeutics one day, and I’m neither defending nor decrying policies against the use of embryonic cells (though I admit I lean heavily toward allowing their use—I understand the value of such cells, as they are much more malleable, if you will, than their adult counterparts. Also, it seems questionable to let embryonic stem cells go to waste over a philosophical argument over abortion).

And yet…

By forcing researchers to have to look harder at adult stem cells instead—regardless of whether the policy was right or wrong—have we perhaps seen more advances in manipulating and understanding adult human stem cells than we would have if access to embryonic cells had been greater?

I don’t really have an answer, but it’s a thought worth considering. Sometimes, even decisions that may be wrong can have positive results that we never expected.

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October 20, 2010 - Posted by | Government, Labwork & Science | ,

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