by Andy M. (our newest intern, from New Zealand!)
al-Gore.jpgThis is the question many pro-choicers are asking, as revelations surface of Al Gore – former US VP and Nobel Peace Prize recipient – aligning himself with an adult stem cell research company.
Andy Coghlan at New Scientist writes:

Gore’s venture capital company, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers is putting $20 million into a joint venture between iZumi Bio, a company in San Francisco, and the University of Kyoto where researcher Shinya Yamanaka discovered how to make [adult] iPS [induced pluripotent stem] cells in 2006.
The aim is to produce treatments for degenerative conditions including Parkinson’s Disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [Lou Gehrig’s disease, which Stephen Hawking has].

By the same token, many pro-lifers are rethinking their relationship with Gore, viewing him as a potential new ally for the pro-life cause. However this is an unfounded conclusion. [JLS note: At the beginning of his political career, Gore was considered pro-life.]…

It is clear Gore has taken stock of his investment options in this area and chosen the one that is likely to be the most profitable.
At the same time, while it is unlikely Gore’s company has opted to invest in adult stem cell research on moral grounds, we cannot absolutely rule this out. In 2004, Gore was reported to have promised to invest in stem cell research, but he did not make it clear whether it would be embryonic or adult and attempted to steer clear of the moral questions.
Contrary to the commonly touted fact that escr has more potential than iPSC research, investments and developments in this field would indicate otherwise. According to the Daily Beast:

…[S]o stunning was the discovery that Time magazine named iPS innovation one of the “10 Best Scientific Discoveries of 2007” and the journal Science rated it the No. 1 breakthrough of 2008.

But not only is iPSC a huge breakthrough, its entrance into the stem cell research arena heralds the demise of the over-hyped escr, as US News reports:

Even as the future of embryonic stem cells has dimmed, adult stem cell research has scored major wins evident just in the past few months. These advances involve human stem cells that are not derived from human embryos.

Gore’s latest move is not evidence that he is pro-life, rather that he is following the trend of other smart investors by having his company injecting funding into iPSC research.

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