THE BLOG
10/09/2012 03:19 pm ET Updated Dec 09, 2012

Romney Would Outlaw Nobel Prize-winning Research?

Had Republicans like Mitt Romney and George Bush gotten their way, this year's Nobel Prize-winning research would have been criminalized.

Two scientists were honored this year, for work which may one day lead to an effective non-embryonic stem cell research technique. Both would have been declared criminals by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former President George Bush.

Dr. John Gurdon was honored for his work on therapeutic cloning, a procedure which George Bush wanted to criminalize with penalties of ten years in jail and a million dollar fine. Mitt Romney as governor not only vetoed funding for that same technique, but as a presidential candidate said he would outlaw it: "From a legal standpoint, I would outlaw cloning to create new stem cells..."

There are two basic kinds of cloning. One is useless and repulsive. Reproductive cloning of humans, as was done with Dolly the sheep, is bizarre, illegal in stem cell-supportive California, and unsupported by any scientific organization: Nobody wants it.

The other type of cloning, which Romney would also outlaw, has nothing to do with making babies (biologically impossible, as there is no pregnancy involved) but which only copies cells. The research of Dr. Gurdon involves the insertion of DNA information into a microscopic human egg, letting this sit in a dish of saltwater for five to seven days, and then taking it apart for the stem cells. There is no implantation in the womb at any time.

Therapeutic cloning provided a foundation for the work of Shinya Yamanaka, who (concurrently with Wisconsin's Jamie Thomson) developed the non-embryonic technique called Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells.

Shinya Yamanaka's progress was built on the study of and comparison with embryonic stem cells, which are regarded as the "Gold standard" of research to this day.

Yamanaka's embryonic stem cell research, like Professor Gurdon's, would be illegal if the current Republican Presidential Platform becomes law.

In one quick sentence, the official Republican platform condemns both embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning: "We urge a ban on human cloning and the creation of or experimentation on human embryos."

Anyone who supports medical research for cure should take note of the startling difference between the Democrats and Republicans on this issue.

President Obama supports advanced stem cell research; candidate Romney would criminalize it.

Remember in November!