By: Dr. Andrew J. Rochman
In March 2009, Obama repealed a policy formulated by the Bush administration that prohibited the use of federal funds for research on stem cell therapy. The policy was meant to placate the anger of conservative supporters that were against the idea of destroying human embryos for deriving stem cells from them. However, President Bush ‘s policy did not restrict the use of private funds for conducting stem cell research and many private organizations such as the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research and The Leukemia And Lymphoma Society have funded stem cell research in the past. Other organizations have funded research at many universities and research institutions (Fossett, 2014).
The effects of this repeal have been positive and welcomed by all. For many scientists, it means the end of tedious bookkeeping that required them to keep separate account of supplies purchased from federal funds allocated to a project and other funds allocated to projects on stem cell therapy. They hope this decision will allow them to work in an efficient manner and not get bogged down by the amount of paper trail and tedious processes (Nasaw, 2009).
Since the repeal, there has been considerable progress in stem cell research. In November 2009, more research lines were added to the NIH list, adding more materials for researchers to study and learn from. The NIH reviewed its guidelines regarding the use of human embryonic stem cell lines that are not being used in fertility treatments. The Obama administration also approved the use of embryonic stem cell lines strictly adhering to NIH guidelines. Many cell lines approved by President Bush’s administration were found to be unethical by Obama’s government (Progress, 2014).
Since the repeal, there has been considerable progress in stem cell therapy. The federal government’s initiative has sparked an interest in regenerative medicine, an area of medicine in which doctors seek to heal the patient’s damaged tissue by taking them from the patient’s body and growing them in a lab. These cells are then reprogrammed and injected into the patient’s body to heal injured tissues (Americanprogress.org, 2014). Recently, scientists have sought to develop personalized stem cells for diabetes patients by taking stem cells from the body and directing them to produce insulin (Thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu, 2014).
Recently, it has been found that stem cells taken from other sources can be just as beneficial for modern research as embryonic stem cells. These other sources include stem cells taken from the umbilical cord, and the stem cells taken from adult human tissues. Without more research on embryonic stem cells, it was not possible to gain more insight into how these cells work and can be used for therapy. In fact, many scientists believe that adult stem cells may provide a better source of treatment than embryonic stem cells (Americanprogress.org, 2014).
The effect of Obama’s repeal has far-reaching consequences for the society, and it remains to be seen how stem cells impact the lives of the average Americans in terms of healthcare and medical treatment.
Americanprogress.org, (2014). Eight Reasons to Applaud Action on Stem Cells. [online] Available at: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/technology/news/2009/03/09/5745/eight-reasons-to-applaud-action-on-stem-cells/ [Accessed 21 May. 2014].
Fossett, J. (2014). Beyond the Low Hanging Fruit: Stem Cell Research Policy in an Obama Administration. [online] rockinst.org. Available at: http://www.rockinst.org/pdf/health_care/2009-05-stem_cell_research_policy.pdf.
Anon, (2014). Eight Reasons to Applaud Action on Stem Cells. [online] Available at: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/technology/news/2009/03/09/5745/eight-reasons-to-applaud-action-on-stem-cells/ [Accessed 21 May. 2014].
Nasaw, D. (2009). Obama overturns Bush policy on stem cell research. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/mar/09/obama-administration-stem-cell-funding [Accessed 21 May. 2014].
Progress, S. (2014). Timeline: A Brief History of Stem Cell Research. [online] Scienceprogress.org. Available at: http://scienceprogress.org/2009/01/timeline-a-brief-history-of-stem-cell-research/ [Accessed 21 May. 2014].
Thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu, (2014). Scientists Develop Personalized Stem Cells, Working Toward Cure for Diabetes | The Bottom Line (UCSB). [online] Available at: http://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2014/05/scientists-develop-personalized-stem-cells-working-toward-cure-for-diabetes [Accessed 21 May. 2014].