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Stem cell freeze

"Stem cell freeze" Continued...

Issue: "Save the unions," Oct. 24, 2009

Although only Georgia legally acknowledges embryo adoption (elsewhere the process relies on contracts between the two families, said Stoddart), many states protect embryos from wrongful death or hazardous experimentation. Parents who may decide to donate their embryos for research under the NIH guidelines could potentially find themselves in a tangle with state law.

Nightlight is also representing the leftover IVF embryos that expanded ESC research would affect (respectfully called "Plaintiff Embryos").

The Christian Medical Association, representing 15,000 doctors, opposes the Obama administration policy and supports non-embryonic stem cell research. Two scientists, James Sherley and Theresa Deisher, claim that the administration's inclusion of new stem cell lines in funding opportunities will increase competition for the grants needed to conduct research with adult stem cells.

In fact, it is adult and umbilical cord stem cells that have produced real breakthroughs for treatment for illnesses ranging from multiple sclerosis to lupus to stroke paralysis, said David Prentice of the Family Research Council: "Embryonic is frankly no further ahead than it's been for decades." The only existing clinical trial of ESC therapy, intended to treat spinal cord injuries, was recently halted by the FDA for safety concerns before any patients had enrolled. Embryonic cells have been problematic in part because of their propensity to grow tumors after being implanted.

Casey and his colleagues hope the judge in the case issues a preliminary injunction as early as this month, which would force HHS and NIH to freeze any grants being issued for embryonic stem cell research until the resolution of the suit. The agencies have asked the judge to deny the injunction and dismiss the case.

Children, this is a stem cell

By Daniel James Devine

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may sign into California law legislation that is an attempt to push stem cell science on K-12 public schools. The legislation intends to "promote stronger links among [stem cell and biotechnology] industry sectors, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and California public schools."

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)-created through the 2004 voter approval of Proposition 71-worked directly with lawmakers on the measure. Although the final bill doesn't use the word embryonic, its inclusion can be taken for granted: CIRM itself has spent at least $120 million promoting human embryonic stem cell research.

Don Gibbons, the chief communications officer for CIRM, told a reporter the legislation would "make it more difficult for some conservative school districts to opt out of stem cell education for ethical reasons." If the measure becomes law, the state's department of education will be required to promote a "model curriculum" that CIRM is helping to write.

The bill's advocates hope to create a "stem cell culture" in California, says Dana Cody, executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. "What better way to do that than getting into the minds of California public school children?"

Daniel James Devine
Daniel James Devine

Daniel is a reporter for WORLD who covers science, technology, and other topics in the Midwest from his home base in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

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