Doctors and scientists in most medical research must be continually miffed at the amount of press coverage their colleagues in other disciplines routinely receive. Some areas of research are newsworthy and others simply are not.
But the ingredients that make particular studies attractive to journalists are not necessarily purpose or effectiveness of how many people they might benefit. Instead, it is often research which is ethically or politically sensitive which interests us. Research areas like human genetics or research which uses particular subjects - fetuses, embryos or sometime animals - seem to take up an inordinate amount of column inches
And so the recent news that transplants of fetal brain cells into Parkinson's sufferers has taken a step backwards has caught our attention. Because fetal cells are involved, the research is appealing. But memories are short and we run the risk of being left with the impression that fetal cell therapy will never work for Parkinson's or, worse, that all treatments for the disease have been knocked back.
It's difficult for the uninitiated to fully understand the progress of medical research. As Nigel Hawkes of The Times has observed, many of today's medical treatments, such as bone marrow or heart transplants, were phenomenally unsuccessful to start with. And new treatments, or even cures, often come from the most unlikely and unexpected sources. That's just the way it is with science.
We do, of course, need to hear about the failures as well as the breakthroughs. But we also need to learn how to comprehend them. Perhaps this will be one good outcome of the otherwise tragic fetal brain cell research.