Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Hype

The San Franciso Chronicle gives us to a very even-handed treatment of the hype surrounding embryonic stem cell research. They note in the conclusion:
"There are many approaches out there, and stem cells are certainly one of them," Tuszynski said. "My thought is that the magnitude of the benefit is relatively modest. Although at some point, one can say it's worthwhile to make the transition to clinical trials, people's expectations need to be modest also. When you don't have a whopping effect in the animal study to begin with, trying to detect it in humans becomes very difficult."

The late actor Christopher Reeve, paralyzed in a horse-riding accident, once said he sometimes wished he were a rodent, so that he could have a chance to try experimental therapies sooner.

Despite the frustration among patients, however, no one will hazard even a guess as to when the first stem cell therapies will be ready for a trial run.

"We haven't even engaged in a conversation with the FDA to know what their needs might be, or how high the bar might have to be," McGlynn, the Stem Cells chief executive, said. "It's very tempting to try to get ahead of ourselves here. But these are early days."