September 26, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Keep hope: the ‘war’ is not over

Many of us have been discouraged by Geron’s decision to end their stem cell program, which included products based on human embryonic stem (ES) cells, but let’s keep some perspective on this and not give up hope.

The opponents of hope want us to give up. They who have waged their own self-proclaimed war on researchers, patients, and their families, are rejoicing. For example, see this self-congratulatory propaganda (if you don’t have a faint stomach). Or choose not to visit that site so as not to give the opponents of hope more encouragement. You probably can guess what they are saying anyway. I can sum the propaganda up for you–‘Geron’s quitting on stem cells means that ES cell research is a failure and causes cancer, and we have knocked you out.’

It’s a bunch of baloney.

In the opponents of hope’s view, they’ve won their war against us scientists and patient advocates and others who support stem cell research in the broadest sense. To them, I say this was just one battle and the “war”, if that is how they see it and call it, is not over.

This is not over.

To them I say, you lost the battle in the federal courts against NIH funding of ES cell research. ES cell research will continue. The clinical trials by ACT will continue. Other clinical trials will start and continue. Great adult stem cell research will continue too. iPS cell research will continue. Stem cell research around the world will continue including ES cell research that is so important for hope for certain conditions.

And to my friends who are scientists and patient advocates, I say don’t give up hope for one minute. Sure, this was a discouraging development and even I myself called it a disaster, which it felt like when I heard the news. But after a few days of discussion within the stem cell field, I am still optimistic. If we learn nothing else from Geron’s decision it is that we have to be more patient than any of us would have wished.

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