US to lift federal embryonic stem cell funding ban?

Welcome news from Reuters: the White House has announced that the US President is to sign an executive order on Monday on the subject of stem cell research.

In view of Mr Obama’s stated opinions on the matter, most sources are speculating that he is to lift the federal ban on funding of embryonic stem cell research on new lines, which was imposed by President George W. Bush.

On this assumption, Bloomberg reports that scientists and health advocates are excited and predicting that the action will accelerate the pace of essential medical research.

I’d prefer to wait until Monday before I start celebrating, but the ban on funding is an international disgrace and it is imperative that it be lifted, and obviously the Obama administration is painfully aware of the years wasted by the previous science-hating administration.

Credit where it’s due: John McCain has consistently advocated for embryonic stem cell research

Factcheck.org has reported on a grossly inaccurate claim by the Obama campaign the Mr Obama’s Republican opponent in the Presidential election, 2008, has “has stood in the way–he’s opposed stem cell research.”  In fact, McCain has consistently supported moves in the Senata to provide funding for embryonic stem cell research.

McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, has said that she opposes embryonic stem cell research where there are alternatives such as adult stem cells.  Their party calls for a blanket ban on the embryonic stem cell research, going considerably further than the Bush government.

Very straightforward: Obama’s responses to Nature on an evolution and stem cell questions

PZ Myers reports on Nature’s election 2008 edition,  He is understandably very proud of Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s response to a question on evolution:

I believe in evolution, and I support the strong consensus of the scientific community that evolution is scientifically validated. I do not believe it is helpful to our students to cloud discussions of science with non-scientific theories like intelligent design that are not subject to experimental scrutiny.

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First viable, scalable artificial red blood cells

The New Scientist reported in issue 2670 that Advanced Cell Technology the troubled American biotechnology corporation, has finally succeeded in developing a viable, scalable process for the production of blood type O red blood cells from embryonic stem cell cultures.  This was preceded by a prepublished paper in the online edition of the science journal Blood by Shi-Jiang Lu, titled Biological properties and enucleation of red blood cells from human embryonic stem cells (see abstract).  The paper demonstrates that the cells have the properties required to function as replacement red blood cells in an adult human.

Meanwhile the premier science journal Nature reports that the US National Institute of General Medical Sciences, in Bethesda, Maryland has made three five-year grants, each totaling about $9m, to universities for embryonic stem cell research.  In June, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)  approved grants totaling over $50 million to fund dedicated laboratory space for culturing human embryonic stem cells, Nature reports.