Joe Biden's stem cell remarks on Tuesday and the objurgatory exchange that followed between the two campaigns raised a valid question: what's going on with this erstwhile issue-of-infinite-contention?

It seems as though, within the context of the debate for federal embryonic stem cell funding, there are two parallel races currently in motion until November which may be strongly linked. One is John McCain's race to the White House. The other is a section of the biomedical research industry's race to further their discoveries in the nascent area of adult Induced Pluripotent Stem (IPS) cells -- which are increasingly touted by pro-lifers as a sufficient replacement for embryonic stem cells, despite trenchant disagreement by most of the scientific community. With each new discovery in non-embryonic stem cell research, strident pro-life advocates gain ammunition to further dilute the importance of having federal funding across the board, for embryonic as well as other less-controversial technologies.

The outcome of either one of these races could very well have a significant and lasting effect on regenerative medicine's future prospects for garnering necessary federal funding and ethical oversight across all of its various areas of research. Though McCain and Obama both have consistent records for supporting the vetoed Stem Cell Research Enhancement Acts of 2005 and 2007 -- in opposition to Bush's executive order prohibiting funding to all embryonic stem cell lines derived after August 9, 2001 -- their past records do not guarantee their positions in the future.

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