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Capital Hill Watch Alert

Senate Expected to Vote This Week
on Stem Cell Measure

The Senate is expected to consider the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005  this week. [S.471] (To view the full text of the legislation visit: Full Text of Legislation.)  It is similar to the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 [H.R. 810] (To view the full text of the legislation visit: Full Text of Legislation ), that was passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 24, 2005.  The measure is seeking to roll back President Bush's ban on federal funding for embryonic-stem cell lines created after May 20, 2001, when the ban was announced.

Already treating human maladies are adult stem cells and related tissue therapies (not embryonic stem cells) obtained from sources such as umbilical cord blood.  In animal and human studies, both in the United States as well as abroad, the science is moving forward at an exhilarating pace.  For example, generally with very encouraging results, early human trials have begun for conditions such as Parkinson's disease, corneal injury, multiple sclerosis and heart damage among others.  

Daunting challenges that may keep them from ever becoming a regular part of medical treatment are faced by embryonic-stem-cell research and therapeutic cloning. For example, the likelihood that the body would reject embryonic stem cells as in the case of a transplanted organ, is a major hurdle for using embryonic-stem cells in regenerative medical treatments taken from leftover in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment indicates an article in the May 2004 Scientific American.  

Since the embryonic stem cells derived from cloned embryos of each patient would likely not be rejected, the rejection conundrum can be overcome by therapeutic cloning.  However, more wildly impractical than making hundreds of thousands of embryonic-stem cell lines is therapeutic cloning.  For each attempt, an egg is required for human cloning which is also known as somatic-cell nuclear transfer. (SCNT)  And there are more than 100 million Americans who could benefit from regenerative medicine claims the National Academy of Sciences. (NAS).  What makes this even more impractical from a scientific point of view is that in 2003, a NAS report suggested based on mouse studies that it could take about 100 human eggs per patient just to derive one cloned embryonic-stem-cell line.  

Currently, embryonic stem cells produce tumors in animal studies making them unsafe for human patients to use.  Also, this difficulty would not be resolved by using cloned embryos to derive stem cells.

The best avenue to pursue, if the goal of scientists is to create effective treatments for degenerative conditions in the quickest possible time, is to pursue the non-embryonic approach.    

Additional Reading:  

The False Promises of Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Momentum to Expand Stem Cell Research Continues to Build: 200 Cosponsors, Over 200 Groups back Castle-DeGette

What Can You Do?  

Urge your senators  NOT TO SUPPORT the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 [S.471].

Contact Information:    

Capitol Hill Switchboard Numbers: 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121 (Those numbers will direct you to the Capitol Hill operator. Ask for your senator's office.)    

To go to your senators' websites, find their E-mail or to find out who your senators are... http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm    

Addressing Correspondence:     

The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510  

Dear Senator (last name):  

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