Policy ForumMedicine

A History Lesson for Stem Cells

Science  08 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5928, pp. 727-728
DOI: 10.1126/science.1174935

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Summary

When President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order on 9 March 2009 rolling back the previous administration's restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research, he took pains to temper Americans' hopes for quick fixes. “At this moment, the full promise of stem cell research remains unknown and it should not be overstated,” the president said. “I cannot guarantee that we will find the treatments and cures we seek” (1). Unfortunately, some stakeholders in hESC research have failed to exhibit the same restraint, effectively promising cures for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, macular degeneration, and hearing loss, to name a few.