Monday, November 5, 2007

Letter to the Grand Rapids Press

On November 3, 2007, the Grand Rapids Press printed the following letter in response to a Press story on stem cell research and a possible ballot proposal to overturn some of Michigan's prolife laws.
The Oct. 28 Press featured an article on embryonic stem cell research, Michigan's prolife laws and economic growth ("Money vs. morality"). While I believe it was fair in letting both sides air their views, a few items should be addressed.

Cloning is not "the transplant of DNA from an individual into an embryo." Human cloning is an attempt to create a cloned human embryo using a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer where the nucleus of an individual's cell is removed and placed into an egg whose nucleus has been removed. This is the same technique used to create Dolly the sheep. Some researchers hope to create cloned human embryos and then kill them for their stem cells. They euphemistically call this "therapeutic cloning."

Sean Morrison, director of the U-M Center for Stem Cell Biology and one of the founders of OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, seems to insinuate that Michigan's law preventing human cloning and the killing of human embryos for research played a role in OncoMed's moving to California. OncoMed's Web site doesn't indicate their research involves killing human embryos or human cloning but rather trying to find ways to kill certain stem cells in adults which lead to cancer. This type of research isn't illegal in Michigan. It seems the more likely reason why OncoMed's investors wanted to move to California was because all of their investors are either based in California or have offices there.