Bans and Limits on Human Cloning, Embryonic Stem Cell Research Could Hamper AIDS Research, Professor Notes
The United States has traditionally been "at the forefront of AIDS research," which is why it is "surprising and embarrassing" that some lawmakers wish to place limitations on embryonic stem cell research and ban human cloning technologies, which could be used to develop new treatments or tests for HIV, Abraham Verghese, professor of medicine at Texas Tech University, writes in an op-ed published in Sunday's New York Times magazine. Verghese is also the author of "My Own Country," an autobiographical account of treating AIDS patients in rural Tennessee. He writes that President Bush's decision to limit federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to those experiments performed on the approximately 60 existing stem cell lines and the House's decision to ban all forms of human cloning contained "very little sorting out of details" and "few distinctions" and are examples of "meaningless debate drowned out by fundamentalist rhetoric." Verghese notes that cloning technologies helped develop a genotyping test that shows whether HIV patients have strains of HIV that have developed genetic resistance to certain antiretrovirals. Verghese concludes, "Stem cell and cloning research may not live up to scientists' expectations. But the possibility of bringing relief to those who are suffering is simply too precious to pass by. ... The world with good reason expects better of us" (Verghese, New York Times, 8/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.