Controversy Over Stem-Cell Research Keeps Charities on Sidelines : Shots - Health Blog : NPR
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation has been in the news because of its clash with Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
But another aspect of Komen’s activities hasn’t received much attention: Komen’s position on research using human embryonic stem cells.
Despite raising millions of dollars for breast cancer research, Komen hasn’t funded any of this work, prompting questions about whether that decision is rooted in politics.
“We find this disappointing and really fairly ironic for a group that is ‘for the cure’ to walk away from research that many scientists think could unlock cures for diseases, including cancer,” said Sean Tipton of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, which lobbies for research with human embryonic stem cells.
Many scientists think human embryonic stem cells could lead to cures for many ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, some forms of blindness and possibly cancer. But human embryos have been destroyed to obtain some of the cells. So the research has long been controversial.
“Anything that involves reproductive biology, whether it’s a sex survey among high school students or it’s contraceptive services, abortion, immediately stirs up political passions,” said Daniel Greenberg, who studies the intersection of science and politics.
No one from Komen agreed to be interviewed for this story. But officials maintained that the group doesn’t have a formal ban on research involving human embryonic stem cells. They say they just haven’t found anything worth funding yet.