Renewed vigour – reply to the Editorial in Nature, 21 June 2012
While we can all support ‘… the right to reliable information’ (Editorial, 21 June 2012), many of us cannot square this with Nature’s biased reporting of stem-cell technologies – this is not the first time I have written to complain.
For example, it is incorrect to infer that it is only politicians who misunderstand the scientific and ethical issues. Moreover, it is erroneous to suggest that the entirety of ‘stem-cell researchers around the world breathed a sigh of relief …’. This is Nature’s continuing problem of conflating all stem-cell technologies, regardless of the origin of those stem cells. It thus ignores the many scientists, who object to the use of embryonic stem cells, but who happily work with adult stem cells.
This misinformation is compounded by ‘the most insidious claim’ that opponents of embryonic stem-cell research consider induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to be the only alternative. This is untrue. The genuine alternative is the use of stem cells derived from adult human tissues – such ethically-neutral technologies have proven to be successful for decades with bone marrow transplants, and more recently with dozens of therapies for eye, heart, spinal cord, muscle and other human disorders.
If Nature wishes to be a cheerleader for embryonic stem-cell research, that is its prerogative, but it should not hoodwink its readership by reporting unreliable information.
Dr John R. Ling,