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Survey finds support for stem cell research

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Since scientists discovered that they could turn adult skin cells into stem cells, researchers have begun asking a question that seemed irrelevant before: Do people support non-embryonic stem cell research?

Virginia Commonwealth University says the answer is yes. VCU's Life Sciences Survey 2007 found that 63% of the 1,000 participants said we need both embryonic and non-embryonic stem cell research, while 22% said that embryonic stem cell research is no longer necessary.

The number of those who favor embryonic stem cell research (54%) has remained stable since 2004, Survey Director Cary Funk told WoW, and the discovery hasn't diminished overall support for embryonic stem cell research. Those who strongly favor embryonic stem cell research haven't changed their minds about its necessity: Only 6% said the discovery meant embryonic stem cell research was no longer necessary. They no longer focus exclusively on embryonic stem cell research, however. Some 86% said we need to pursue non-embryonic stem cell research, too.

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Among those strongly opposed to embryonic stem cell research, 63% said we no longer need embryonic stem cell research and 20% said we need both kinds of research. Funk said those with a weaker opposition to embryonic stem cell research leaned towards supporting both types of research: A majority (55%) said we need both kinds of research, and 25% said that we no longer need embryonic stem cell research at all.

When it came to setting priorities - advancing science versus protecting embryonic life - public opinion was evenly divided. Forty-six percent said it was more important to make sure that scientists don't destroy human embryos, and 42% put a higher priority on conducting research that might result in new medical advances.

Some 38% of those surveyed were already aware of the discovery - a surprisingly high percentage, Funk said. As Americans become more aware of new advancements, public opinion may continue to change.

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