Stem Cell Debate Provides Lens into Waning American Influence
The contrast is sharp. There are two important stories about stem cells today. The first, from FoxNews is entitled "States Consider Harder Line on Stem Cell Research." It's about how state legislators are moving to block expanded stem cell research following Obama's move to loosen restrictions. Smart!
The second, from GlobalPost's Patrick Winn, highlights Thailand as "the future home of stem cell research."
"Worlds away from the political din surrounding stem cells in America, more and more parents are choosing to bank the cord blood of their newborns to use, perhaps, in future medical treatments," writes Winn. "Thailand could be well-positioned to cash in on the trend, as the business of storing stem cells relies on two factors: high birth rates and a class of moneyed parents. Thailand, already a regional healthcare mecca, has both." In response, "a handful of start-ups — Thai StemLife, Cyroviva Thailand, Cordlife and others — are now vying to store stem cells from the roughly 800,000 babies born each year in Thailand."
Compare that with the progressive minds coming out of Georgia and Oklahoma who "are considering bills that would limit, if not outright prohibit, scientists from working with human embryonic stem cells in their research to cure or reverse medical conditions, including diabetes, paralysis and Parkinson's disease," according to James Osborne at FoxNews. And, "in Texas and Mississippi, lawmakers are considering blocking state funding for that research, mirroring existing laws in other states."
If the United States is going to thrive in a global economy, everyone--even lawmakers in the American South--are going to have to embrace technology and medical innovation. Let's hope that if any of these legislators, or their families, are struck with any of the fatal diseases potentially cured by stem cells, they are able to afford the trip to Thailand. It is becoming increasingly difficult in a nation that punishes innovation.
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Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.
- Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
- As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
- If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
- Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
- By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?
- "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
- The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
- Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
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