Friday, November 2, 2007

ALWAYS Follow the Money!

"Follow the money" has been my mantra since childhood. My father explained that you always had to consider who benefited from any action or decision. That said, I've have failed to properly apply that time honored tradition of following the money to one of the last decade's most controversial issues. Stem cell research. I've always taken it for granted that our leaders were opposed to stem cell research because either (a) they thought it immoral or (b) because it would bring in money and votes from those who thought it immoral.

Both a and b do apply but the really big money reason eluded me until today. I was kicking back to watch Beyond Tomorrow on the Science channel (yeah, I'm that annoying guy with all the answers in their commercials) when up came a piece on a new heart treatment. Medical researchers had done a study wherein heart patients facing imminent death from heart failure were offer a one chance "If it works you live; if is doesn't..." treatment.

What was this new treatment? Stem cells that were injected directly into the heart muscle. In some cases the stem cells were used in conjunction with traditional surgical procedures but the really interesting results came when using the stem cells without the surgery. In both cases the results were dramatically improved outcomes.

Prompting Belinda Linden, Head of Medical Information, British Heart Foundation to say, "Most current treatments are aimed at relieving the symptoms; if we can actually repair the heart itself this will be a significant advancement."

The "ah ha moment" for me came when another doctor said the new stem cell treatment has the potential to eliminate the need for prescription medications to treat heart disease. There it was. While I was focused on the small change of political contributions, it was the pharmaceutical industry's huge potential losses that are the money I should have followed.

This new science doesn't just apply to the treatment of heart disease. These new stem cell therapies could provide real cures that eliminate lots of types prescription medications. For years I've been annoying my doctor friends by pointing out that they are only focused on treatment and not cures. Well, stems cells could change all that and that must scare the hell out of Big Pharma.

Don't take my word for it. Google - stem cell heart treatment.

Here endith the lesson - in this case my lesson.

Cross posted on DailyKos

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