The religious right in recent years has repeatedly argued that embryonic stem cell research isn’t sound science and has been a waste of time and money. Last week, for example, the Family Research Council once again argued that embryonic stem cell research “has not successfully treated a single person for any disease.” In testimony before Congress less than two years ago, David Barton of the Texas-based group WallBuilders also argued that such research hadn’t led to any cures. Just last month the Christian Coalition of America claimed that there have been “zero successes in human embryonic stem cell research.” Of course, politicians and far-right pressure groups in this country have put numerous obstacles in the way of this promising medical research.
British scientists have developed the world’s first stem cell therapy to cure the most common cause of blindness. Surgeons predict it will become a routine, one-hour procedure that will be generally available in six or seven years’ time. The treatment involves replacing a layer of degenerated cells with new ones created from embryonic stem cells.
This development offers new hope to millions of people who suffer from age-related macular degeneration.
Professor Peng Khaw, director of the Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, added: “This shows that stem cell therapy is coming of age. It offers great hope for many sufferers around the world who cannot be treated with conventional treatment.” He added: “All my patients say to me is, ‘When will this stem cell treatment be ready? I want it now’.”
On a related note, the Texas House passed its version of the state budget early Saturday (April 18) morning. The House budget does not include the Senate’s proposed ban on public funding for embryonic stem cell (ESC) research. (That ban could also prevent even privately funded ESC research at publicly funded facilities.) A House-Senate conference committee will now hammer out a compromise budget. Opponents of ESC research will likely work to put the funding ban in the final state budget.