At long last, an honest news analysis from the New York Times:
Members of Congress and advocates for fighting diseases have long spoken of human embryonic stem cell research as if it were a sure avenue to quick cures for intractable afflictions. Scientists have not publicly objected to such high-flown hopes, which have helped fuel new sources of grant money like the $3 billion initiative in California for stem cell research.
In private, however, many researchers have projected much more modest goals for embryonic stem cells. Their chief interest is to derive embryonic stem cell lines from patients with specific diseases, and by tracking the cells in the test tube to develop basic knowledge about how the disease develops.
...Embryonic stem cells have their drawbacks. They cause tumors, and the adult cells derived from them may be rejected by the patient’s immune system. Furthermore, whatever disease process caused the patients’ tissue cells to die is likely to kill introduced cells as well. All these problems may be solvable, but so far none have been solved.
Of course in the final paragraph, the author has to swear allegiance to the PC orthodoxy of the (ultimate) efficacy of embryonic stem cells. But other than that, this is a refreshingly honest analysis from the Times. I encourage them to do more of it.
Nicholas Wade, "Rethink Stem Cells? Science Already Has," New York Times (March 9, 2009).