As usual for the weekend, not a lot is going on. On Friday the Maryland House passed the $25 million stem cell bill, no surprise there. Read all about it in the Washington Post or the Baltimore Sun. This is the bill that gives preference to embryonic stem cell research. It faces a likely filibuster when debate begins in the state Senate. Both news articles quoted the Republican minority whip as saying that this gave people false hope and was a cruel hoax. (C’mon, dude. The state’s not promising cures of anything, it’s just funding research. How else will they find anything outow How? You won’t know if it’s snake oil until you test it.)
There’s an opinion column in the Times (UK) about the international differences in stem cell policy and the recent Hinxton Group suggestions. The writer says there’s no reason that governments should not have different policies but that scientists should try to work on persuading them to allow collaboration.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a US House subcommittee will hold a one-day hearing next Tuesday to consider issues raised in connection with the Hwang scandal. The panel will also ask its witness about federal grants, such as the one given to Schatten. Schatten has not been called. The panel is the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources—surely an odd collection of subjects to be putting with stem cell research! Presumably they are worried about fraudulent and/or criminal practices that might arise from stem cell research.
There’s an article in the Baltimore Sun (by a writer for the LA Times) about procedures that have been done on patients in South Korea and have failed. One example is the woman with the spinal-cord injury who walked briefly after receiving an injection of umbilical cord stem cells but is now again immobile and is in constant pain from an infection sustained after a second procedure; another is a woman who underwent a $40,000 treatment on her liver, which did not nothing. The main thrust of the article is that Hwang’s claims about cloning caused the South Korean government to relax regulations and allow “experimental” procedures to be performed; now the biotech companies and hospitals are facing scrutiny. (This is perhaps the kind of thing the US House wants to prevent.)
So, looking at these events, I see that they are loosely tied together by issues of credibility in research. The field is still needing to take baby steps, I think.