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Times Online is reporting that a British research team has developed a promising treatment for the most common causes of blindness using embryonic stem cells:

The treatment will tackle age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness. It affects more than 500,000 Britons and the number is forecast to increase significantly as people live longer.

There’s roughly a 50/50 chance that anyone who lives to age one-hundred will develop AMD to some extent. Some will be blind as a bat long before reaching the century mark. With early diagnosis and aggressive treatment using newer drugs, the onset of advanced AMD can often be delayed or halted. Some of those drugs cost thousands of dollars a dose and they have to be taken regularly for life. Can’t say how that might work in the UK, but here in the US it means the eyesight of millions of baby boomers will be tossed into the vicious snapping jaws of our profit-obsessed health insurance industry.

Speaking of obsession, be wary of social conservatives who say they don't have a problem with private research, only the taxpayer funded version. As far as they’re concerned embryonic stem cell researchers are one rung shy of pre-term serial killers on the ladder of evil. Any conservative activist who says otherwise is either an opportunstic sociopath or a lying sack of crap. Of course they have a problem with it! For prolifers this is a fundamental issue that trumps all others as surely as the fate of Terry Shiavo flattened state's rights or the sanctity of marriage. A coordinated effort has been underway for years seeking to eliminate ESCR along with women's reproductive rights.  

The announcement from Britain is exciting to say the least and represents just one possible dramatic application for research that may revolutionize medical science. For millions of people it could mean the difference between night and day. But while anyone with an ounce of compassion dearly hopes it pans out, it will be years before we know. Healthy skepticism is in order until the proposed treatment is better demonstrated. In the meantime, one thing we can count on is that social conservatives will continue to speak out of both sides of their mouths every chance they get.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Apr 20, 2009 at 08:20 AM PDT.

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