[extropy-chat] NIH Director on NBR
Robert J. Bradbury
bradbury at aeiveos.com
Sat Apr 10 04:16:53 UTC 2004
On Fri, 9 Apr 2004, Reason wrote:
> Anything Zerhouni says has to be filtered through whether those currently in
> power are considering allowing it or not. Not a word in your post about
> regenerative medicine, I note, a collection of technologies that could
> already be doing great good if they weren't being actively suppressed in the
> US and many European counties.
In this case I'm going to have to lean more towards John than Reason.
I would not say that any technologies being being suppressed (such as
stem cells) would be doing anyone any "great good" now. We simply do
not know enough about how they might be used at this point. Once we
know the function of a significantly greater fraction of the ~30,000
genes in the human body -- then suppression might become an issue.
Its probably going to take a decade or more to figure out all of the
molecules involved in turning stem cells into the several hundred
other cell types in the body. The fact that the U.S. is holding back
isn't that significant since China, Korea (and other countries) are pushing
ahead. Biomedical progress simply takes time.
This is complemented by efforts in the U.S. to figure out the structure
and function of many of the genes -- an area where we are racing
around the track. If you look in the growth of structures in the
protein database (most of which are put there by U.S. scientists)
you can see that we aren't stopping for anyone.
Regenerative medicine doesn't have to be called that to be that.
We have to know what proteins do and how they do it. Only then
can we begin to attack specific problems. Aubrey has proposed
a number of specific problems that need to be attacked. These
are not so much being suppressed as they haven't been recognized
as being things one should pay attention to. The technologies
I've been pushing the last 3 years or so (whole genome engineering)
have not been suppressed. They have been the victim of the general
problem with the conservative perspective of venture capital funds
due to the dotcom hangover.
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