IMAGINE living in a world where a drug-free fix for HIV/AIDS existed, or a cure for cancer, blindness, Parkinson’s, diabetes, heart disease, even Lou Gehrig’s disease. Advocates of stem cell research are driven by this vision. They say the promise of stem cell therapy is the birth of a new medical paradigm more revolutionary than the advent of the internet.
Some even believe stem cell therapy is the key to immortality. As a result, those pursuing medical breakthroughs in the field are often driven by an age old obsession to find the magical elixir of life.
However, it is not just anti-aging obsessives who support stem cell research. Legitimate, professional medical researchers have sound reasons to be optimistic about the positive impact stem cell treatments could have on public health.
There are also investors who want to cash in on new medical breakthroughs. There are also patients suffering from incurable diseases or chronic disorders praying for stem cell therapy to be their miracle cure.
Debate on The Bahamas’ potential foray into the world of stem cell research and regenerative medicine has touched on some of the moral and ethical issues, but there has been virtually no debate of the economics of stem cell research. The government’s economic claims have gone unchallenged.
For the most part conversation has been hijacked by talk about a millionaire fashion designer who is very interested in the use of stem cells for anti-aging treatments and happens to be an investor in the Bahamas. When debate resumes in the House of Assembly next week, I hope it will turn to more substantive issues.