Das Stammzellen-Wettrennen geht weiter

Üblicherweise wird wissenschaftliche Forschung betrieben, um unser Leben zu verbessern. Sie ist aber auch eine Industrie, in die Regierungen und Konzerne gleichermaßen massiv investieren. Der Einsatz und die möglichen Gewinne sind bei manchen wissenschaftlichen Fragen außergewöhnlich hoch. Darum hat auch die Nachricht, dass der südkoreanische Wissenschaftler Hwang Woo-suk die Ergebnisse seiner Arbeit über Stammzellen gefälscht hat, weithin Befremden ausgelöst.

Diese Geschichte rückt das auf dem Gebiet der Stammzellenforschung ausgetragene aktuelle Wettrennen in der internationalen medizinischen Forschung in den Vordergrund. Der möglicherweise größte Preis in der Geschichte der Medizin steht auf dem Spiel und jeder – wirklich jeder – könnte ihn gewinnen.

Das letzte große wissenschaftliche Rennen dieser Art war der Versuch, das menschliche Genom zu entschlüsseln. Davon verspricht man sich eine radikale Veränderung unseres zukünftigen Lebens. Die Forschungen auf diesem Gebiet wurden von den USA initiiert, die sich Erkenntnisse aus der Zeit nach den Atombombenabwürfen auf Japan zunutze machten, um das Ausmaß langfristiger genetischer Veränderungen zu verstehen. Die gegenwärtige Erforschung der Stammzellen und deren Potenzial steht der Genomforschung an Bedeutung um nichts nach, weil auch sie zu einer radikalen Revolution in der Medizin führen wird.

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