Embryonic Stem Cell Ban: Get ready for lift-off, Obama style.

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Human embryonic stem cell growing on a layer of supporting cells (fibroblasts). Micrograph by Annie Cavanagh and Dave McCarthy. Source.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama will soon issue an executive order officially lifting an eight-year ban against embryonic stem cell research imposed by his predecessor, President George W. Bush, a senior adviser said on Sunday. President Obama had promised to reverse the ban, should he become president, during his 2008 election campaign. Making good on that promise could eventually yield research that will produce cures to illness such as diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and others.

Bush’s 2001 decision to ban embryonic stem cell science was seen as a largely political move to placate religious zealots that tout faith based decisions over scientific solutions to health and human needs. Moderates from both sides of the aisle are applauding the reversal. Here is a recent opinion piece making the case FOR Conservative, Pro-Life Case for Embryonic Stem Cell Research.

The lifting of the ban will allow the US to remain scientifically competitive in a quickly changing world of mapped genomes, human clones by the Chinese, stem cell injections for spinal cord patients, organ creation for replacement parts and immune system break-throughs. Please proceed with Ban Lift-Off, Mr. President!

In loosely related stories for recent scientific developments, a human ear is being grown on the back of a laboratory mouse. No embryonic stem cells were used in this procedure, however.
Australian performance artist, Stelios Arcadious (aka Stelarc) has a third ear implanted onto his forearm. He spent nearly 10 years searching for a surgeon who would perform the controversial operation. He has become a “living exhibit” and is planning to install tiny bluetooth transmitters so that his audience can hear the sounds that his arm-ear pick up. Weird Science, for sure!

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