The Stakes with Stem Cells
Research Offers Hope for Cures
By Register Editorial Board
Some California parents are reminding the country what stem-cell research is really all about. Signatures are being collected for a ballot measure that would seek to raise $3 billion for human embryo stem-cell research. Behind the push are families with a loved one afflicted with a serious illness, especially parents of children with juvenile diabetes. This group has power and emotion for the cause. As it should.
Type 1 diabetes is a devastating illness, particularly when it affects children. Cells in the pancreas stop producing insulin. That means children take on responsibilities far beyond their years, from giving themselves insulin shots and regulating their blood sugar to watching their diet and activity. They grow up aware of the risks of going blind, developing kidney disease or losing a limb, fears children without diabetes never know. It's a scary illness for parents and children.
The hope in pursuing stem-cell research is that cells can be grown to replace the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas so a child would no longer need insulin injections.
For years, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has poured millions into private research on stem cells because it offers hope. It offers a cure.
It offers the promise of improving lives.
That is what science is supposed to do.
Which is why the political opposition to stem-cell research has been so disappointing. In 2001, President Bush restricted research for federal funding and has argued against the research altogether because it requires the destruction of days-old human embryos.
Yet the embryos used to produce stem-cell lines would be discarded anyway. Using them for work to improve lives is morally justified. It's the failure to do so that's wrong.
Californians pushing the initiative are hoping to supply about $300 million each year for 10 years to the biotechnology industry and universities in an effort to use science to do good. And that's the right thing to do.