Stem Cell Brain Drain in UK–Due to ESCR!

October 27, 2008

For years we have been warned that there would be a “brain drain” if we did not pour billions into ESCR and human cloning research. I have called this the “blank check” demand.

Meanwhile, in Brave New Britain–the country that never says no–scientists wanting increasing funds warned that unless they received all of their demands, stem cell scientists would flee to the USA when President Bush leaves office and the policy changes. And now, a brain drain may have begun in the UK–only it is over the country’s insufficient support for adult stem cell research. From the story:

A leading British scientist is leaving the country to work in France after claiming that British science gives too much priority to embryo experiments over “more ethical” alternatives.

Colin McGuckin, professor of regenerative medicine at Newcastle University, believes that more funding should be given to work with adult stem cells. He is quitting after just three years with one of his most senior colleagues to go to an institute in Lyons.

McGuckin was part of the first team to grow liver tissue using adult stem cells taken from blood in the umbilical cord. Some scientists believe that it is more ethical to use adult stem cells, as research work on cells from human embryos destroys the embryo…

McGuckin says Newcastle University and the government’s funding bodies give too much preference to embryo experiments. He told Times Higher Education that France had kept a “much more reasoned balance”. He added: “[France] is very supportive of adult stem cells because they know that these are the things that are in the clinic right now.

“A vast amount of money in the UK from the government has gone into embryonic stem cell research with not one patient having been treated, to the detriment of [research into] adult stem cells, which has been severely underfunded.”

I believe that ethical research is also the best science since it permits the kind of societal consensus necessary for long term support of the scientific enterprise.

Here is the story on the successful liver experiment referenced in the story, which I wrote about in the NRO.

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