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Capital Hill Watch Alert

House to Consider Two Stem Cell Research Bills This Week    

The House of Representatives is scheduled to consider on Tuesday, May 24, 2005, two measures that would provide federal funding for stem cells.  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 is bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Mike Castle (Republican-Delaware) and Diana DeGette (Democrat-Colorado) the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 [H.R. 810] (To view the Full Text of the legislation visit: Full Text of Legislation ).  

Also, another measure the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 [ H.R. 2520] ( To view a Suummary of the legislation visit: Summary of Legislation) calling for a federally-funded network of banks for umbilical cord blood, is another bill authored by Representative Christopher Smith (Republican-New Jersey)  

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 to use 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 on 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
Smith Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act
Momentum to Expand Stem Cell Research Continues to Build: 200 Cosponsors, Over 200 Groups back Castle-DeGette

What Can You Do?      

Urge your representative to  NOT TO SUPPORT   the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 [H.R. 810] authored by Representatives Mike Castle and Diana DeGette but instead to SUPPORT   the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 [ H.R. 2520]  authored by Representative Christopher Smith that calls for a federally-funded network of banks for umbilical cord blood.    

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 representative's office.)    

To go to your representative's website, find his E-mail or to find out who your representatives are... http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.html      

To electronically mail your U.S. House of Representative, go to http://www.house.gov/htbin/wrep_findrep.  

Addressing Correspondence:    

The Honorable (full name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515  

Dear Representative (last name):

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