Tuesday, 9 October 2012
The entire international scientific community is celebrating the Nobel Prize awarded to researchers who have discovered cellular reprogramming of adult cells into stem cells without destroying human embryos. Meanwhile, the French Senate is getting ready on Monday, 15 October to carve in stone an anachronistic and useless text giving priority to stem cells obtained after destroying human embryos.
The contrast is startling; reviewing the events would be comical if it were not tragic…
The magnificent scientific advance in reprogrammed cells (or iPS) published in 2006 and 2007 is based on work carried out by Professor Yamanaka in 2004-2005. In France, the institutions and researchers proclaim that embryonic cells are the bases of reparative medicine of tomorrow. They dismiss out of hand countries still hesitant about this type of research, claiming that they were so for religious reasons, and classifies them as “out of touch”.
In 2005, Mr Peschanski and his friends were even preparing to crown “Man of the Year” at the Folie Bergères the Korean Hwang who claimed to have succeeded in committing the taboo of human cloning, thereby giving a minefield of embryonic stem cells to technicians and to the pharmaceutical industry. At the same time, Professor Yamanaka tried to avoid the taboo of uselessly destroying embryos by a stroke of genius that brought him to discover the rejuvenation of cells. The false scientist, Hwang, was convicted of fraud; the real scientist, Yamanaka, became a Nobel Prize winner. He opened a new path that disqualifies the research on human embryos and shows up the strategic error of French research: to work with human embryos at all costs. The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation notes that this did not prevent Mr Peschanski from running to celebrate the victory of Professor Yamanaka (lefigaro.fr). A moment of shame passed by quickly.
The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation welcomes the award of the Nobel Prize to Professor Yamanaka. It is proud to have made a modest contribution to introducing Professor Yamanaka to France, beginning in 2006, by sending several French journalists to Rome where the Japanese researcher was invited to present a preview of his work. It is disappointed that the Biomedicine Agency took many years to make a reference to this major discovery even though it was an alternative to embryonic research, which it continues to authorise by dispensation under doubtful conditions.
Today, France is “out of touch”
On Monday, 15 October, the senators were about to cancel the protective principle, banning research on embryos and embryonic stem cells. At that time, they favoured, against the flow, a false research roadmap, in a direction that has been stuck for several years. Worse yet, this direction would make French research on non-embryonic stem cells even more behind.
As it is not too late to do what is right, the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation is appealing to political leaders to send a clear and credible message to the international scientific community: France is fully engaging its research strength to the benefit of non-embryonic stem cells (iPS and others).