Thursday, January 11, 2007

Save The Afterbirth! And The Umbilical Cord, If It's Convenient!

A study pulblished in the journal Nature Biotechnology indicates that there are stem cells within the amniotic fluid surrounding babies in the womb - and that these cells, which can be extracted without killing anything that can be remotely thought of as “life,” even by the most ignorant conservative, have the potential to be nearly as exciting as embryonic stem cells.

Not the same as emryonic stem cells - amniotic cells are extracted much further down the line than are embryonic stem cells - but possibly more exciting than adult stem cells, which are extracted at an even later stage of the game. Newsweek has an article that talks about the research published in Nature Biotechnology, and discusses the ways in which amniotic cells are different from ebryonic cells.

I heard about this a couple of days ago and have been sort of wrestling with it - is it good, or is it bad...can I find something nice to say, or will I just be an argumentative shit like I usually am? I believe I can come up with a wee little bit of all four.

My first inclination was to be indignant about it - because work along these lines was made necessary when work with ever-increasing numbers of lines of embryonic stem cells could have been going on since 2001 when Bush, during his un-elected term, banned the use of federal dollars to extract new lines of stem cells from fertilized embryos. But what would be the point of that indignance on my part?

So Bush sees a fertilized embryo and a living, breathing person as the same exact thing - sort of like a packet of tomato seeds and a garden full of plump, ripe, succulent tomatoes would be the same thing. He’s an idiot; everyone knows this by now - too bad you fucking Republicans can’t take your stupid votes back for a refund, huh? Okay...that takes care of “is it bad” and the “argumentative little shit” portions. Let’s turn that frown upside down and look on the bright side of pro-life. Ready?

In spite of all the roadblocks to their success that come with having King George II in the White House, scientists have soldiered on, and have come up with this amniotic stem cell idea. Since the potential of amniotic cells seems to fall somewhere between the potential of embryonic cells and the potential of adult cells, the research to be done on them and with them will probably help scientists to learn even more about the other two kinds of cells than they already know - although this absolutely should not be seen as any kind of equivalent substitution for unfettered work on and with embryonic cells.

They’ve still got a long way to go on it, and they can probably find a way to spend most of the next 739 days - that would be the countdown to a new and better President - working on the amniotic cells. Then, on the 740th day, when the new President undoes the damage Bush did, by reversing the ban on federal funding, they can go back to work on finding new lines of embryonic stem cells and be able to use all the progress they made working with amniotic cells to further their work with the embryonic cells. turns out that research on amniotic stem cells “is good,” and I also found “something nice to say” about it. It probably won’t be the only time I’ll weigh in on this one. The issue of stem cell research may become the most important matter of science in our lifetimes, and it will be left to liberals and progressives to make sure that it remains in the spotlight and gets the attention it deserves, because conservatives will feel compelled to invoke their “god myth” in order to excuse their fear and lack of understanding of it.

You can probably expect Bush to say something about the promise of amniotic cells in the coming weeks. His speech last night, about sending more troops to Iraq, was poorly received, and the House is about to pass a bill that would bolster federal funding for embryonic stem cell research - a type of bill that Bush vetoed last year and will veto again when and if it hits his desk this year. He will veto the bill even though polls show that most Americans support research with embryonic stem cells - and the veto will do nothing to help him gain back support from the people he has alienated. He will probably try to latch on to amniotic cell research as a way to placate a vast number of people, even though he doesn’t have any more elections to win.

I have this sneaking suspicion that he will in some way try to equate the potential of amniotic stem cell research with the potential of embryonic stem cell research - and that some ambitious member of his communications office will help to craft a speech in which the Presdent blurs the line between the two so much that the American people are fooled into accepting his illogical thinking. Bit of America bashing there, huh? Ana had a nice blog the other day in which she said in its second sentence that she did not mean to bash America.

That can be difficult not to do, though - we just aren’t getting much right at the moment. America is the broken-down Ford Taurus going along the interstate in the fast lane while doing only forty miles an hour, while the rest of world, tired of waiting behind us, finally elects to pass us on the right in their Hondas and Toyotas (hybrids, don’t you know?). If you got rid of all the people who shop at Wal-Mart, plus all the people who eat at McDonald’s, plus all the people who drive SUVs or any other vehicle with more than four cylinders, plus all the people who voted for Bush the second time - how many people would be left in this country? Thirty? Thirty-five? However many it is, I would like to meet them all; and I would be quite pleased to get started on rebuilding this once-great country with people like them working alongside me.

(Oh...and the title of this post is a quote from a movie, not just random gobbledy-gook.)

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