NSF Accused of Misrepresenting Information on Stem Cell Research

June 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

What's the truth about stem cells?

The Family Research Council (FRC) last week criticized the National Science Foundation (NSF) for publishing incorrect information about stem cells. In touting NSF funding of a publication about stem cell comparisons, the science organization put out a press release titled “Social scientists study impact of human adult stem cell research.” The FRC argues that the the paper NSF references, and which the science agency funded, does not discuss adult stem cells at all.

The paper promoted by NSF, published in the journal Cell on Friday, compares embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. iPS cells are embryonic-like stem cells made directly from adult tissues by adding a few genes to normal cells, without using embryos.  The iPS cells are not adult stem cells.

Dr. David Prentice, Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for Life Sciences reacted with the following statement:

“I am appalled that the National Science Foundation would publish an ideological paper that promotes embryo-destructive research by attempting to link such research to advances in iPS cell research. While even this possible linkage is questionable based on the limits of the data presented, NSF in its headlong rush to promote ES cell research goes over the edge in confusing and prejudicing the public… Isolating embryonic stem cells requires the destruction of a young human embryo, and has yet to show published evidence of any success in humans. While iPS cells provide an ethical method to form pluripotent stem cells almost identical to ES cells, from any person, but without embryo destruction, iPS cells are not adult stem cells.”

“The NSF should retract their press release and issue a full correction. Open debate on public policy and law regarding stem cell research cannot abide such scientific ignorance and willful misrepresentation,” concluded Prentice.

The press release and article the FRC is criticizing discusses the results of a study regarding the impact of human stem cell research.

New research says studying both adult and embryonic stem cells can benefit medical science, but banning the study of either type could harm studies of the other. Researchers from the University of Michigan, Stanford University and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. investigated whether the increased number of studies with a certain type of adult stem cell has changed the overall course of research in the field.

In analyzing more than 2,000 scientific papers, the researchers found adult stem cells are not replacing human embryonic stems cells in the laboratory. Instead, the two cell types have proven to be complementary and any disruption of federal funding, they say, would negatively impact stem cell research overall.

If federal funding stops for human embryonic stem cell research, it would have a serious negative impact on adult stem cell research, says Stanford University bioethicist Christopher Scott, one of the paper’s co-authors. “We may never be able to choose between iPS and ES cell research because we don’t know which type of cell will be best for eventual therapies.”

Adult stem cells come from tissues such as bone marrow, blood, brain, heart and umbilical cord blood, and can be isolated without harm to the stem cell donor from birth onward. More than 50,000 people annually receive adult stem cell transplants around the globe, and published science shows adult stem cells are successful at treating dozens of diseases and injuries, including heart damage, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes and sickle cell anemia.


NSF Launches Science360 for iPad App

June 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

A screenshot of the app in action.

On June 8, the National Science Foundation released its Science360 for iPad application in the App Store section of Apple’s iTunes. The application features spectacular images from NSF-funded institutions and also allows users to share images and video on Facebook and Twitter or via email. In addition, breaking science news is always at a user’s fingertips through the application news feed.

“iPads are becoming more prevalent, more reliable and more viable for locating information,” said acting NSF Director of Public Affairs Dana Topousis. “This application will provide at your fingertips another avenue for sharing and accessing breaking science news.”

Science360 for iPad has a unique look–a spherical or 360-degree presentation. The app also demonstrates the successful partnerships and platforms NSF has developed with NBC Learn and LiveScience.com as well as Science Nation, to communicate science and technology discoveries to a broader audience

The full list of features includes:
– Spectacular images from NSF-funded institutions available in high resolution for download to your iPad
– Fun and engaging streaming video (WiFi or 3G connection required) on a wide range of topics
– Hundreds of images and videos to experience, with new content added weekly
– Share images and videos on Facebook and Twitter or via email
– Keep abreast of breaking stories in scientific discovery as they happen with the in-app news feed
– Pan through content in the unique 360 view or find content via keyword with a simple two finger touch
– With a single touch, save favorite images and video within the app so that they can easily be found again

Download the Science360 for iPad application today! It’s free!

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