Thursday, August 17, 2006

New York Times promoting voodoo science?

On August 17, the New York Times had an article entitled "Luring Top Stem Cell Researchers With Financing and Freedom" which discussed Biopolis.

Of some interest is the paragraph:

Bush administration opposition to stem cell research is based on the argument that it requires destroying embryos, each potentially representing a human life. Singapore allows stem cells to be taken from aborted fetuses or discarded embryos, and these embryos can be cloned and kept for up to 14 days to produce stem cells.

Lest we forget, the only research group on the planet to claim the cloning of human embryos and creation of a stem cell line from blastocysts therefrom is the group of Hwang Woo Suk, assorted members thereof who are facing various criminal charges in South Korea. The two papers in Science making claims of SCNT cloning of human cells were formally retracted in January 2006. So the NYT voodoo science idea "these embryos can be cloned to produce stem cells" is in need of revision. I'd write the NYT myself but I'm still tired out from trying to convince the journal Science that new matter cannot be added in continuation patent applications. [Incidentally, no patent lawyer of any stripe has stepped forward to assert that new material can be added to a continuation application. I'm still waiting.]

Of some relevance to the Princeton University reports being used by the Proposition 71 / CIRM folks is the following:

Lavish salaries and lofty titles have helped Singapore staff Biopolis with a roster of foreign luminaries. In 2001, the same year President Bush first imposed limits on financing of stem cell research, Singapore snagged the National Cancer Institute researcher Edison Liu Tak-Bun.

Dr. Liu said he had felt hemmed in by outdated academic structures
and the biotechnology industry's preoccupation with financial survival.

''Singapore, however, welcomed new ideas and, because of its newness, provided degrees of organizational freedom necessary for me to succeed,'' Dr. Liu said in an e-mail interview. He now works at Biopolis as head of the Genome Institute.

In 2003, Singapore lured Jackie Y. Ying from the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, where she had become its youngest tenured professor ever,
to head up its Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at Biopolis.

Earlier this year, Singapore scored another pair of Americans, the
dean of the University of California, San Diego's school of medicine, Edward W.
Holmes, and his wife, Judith L. Swain. Dr. Swain was the school's dean of
translational medicine -- the specialty of turning laboratory discoveries into
practical drugs or therapies.

[IPBiz note: Larry Lessig once promoted a translational theory of constitutional interpretation.]


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