BIO urges Congress to pass Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act

Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), has issued the following statement on H.R. 3, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007.

"I commend Speaker Pelosi (D-CA), Representative DeGette (D-CO), Representative Castle (R-DE) and other Congressional leaders for recognizing the great potential of embryonic stem cell research and for moving so quickly to greatly expand the ability of scientists to receive federal funding for this research.

"While embryonic stem cell research is still at an early stage, the nation's top scientists agree that this technology has the greatest potential to provide new, groundbreaking therapies for diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injuries and a host of other disabling and deadly conditions.

"A recent paper reported on very promising research using stem cells drawn from amniotic fluid.  While we are optimistic about these findings, the results have not yet been replicated.  This work should not be seen as a substitute for the embryonic stem cell research authorized by HR 3.  The ability of pluripotent embryonic stem cells to create specialized cells throughout the body has already been proven in laboratories across the world.

"In a letter to Representatives DeGette and Castle, the author of that paper agreed that his research was not a substitute to pursue other forms of research on regenerative medicine therapies. He stated, ‘It is very possible that research involving embryonic stem cells will have critical implications for advancing research into amniotic fluid stem cells.  It is essential that National Institute of Health-funded researchers are able to fully pursue embryonic stem cell research as a complement to research into other forms of stem cells.'

"Drug discovery advances occur when scientists are allowed to pursue all promising paths of research.  We must do all we can to accelerate research and explore all avenues of therapeutic possibilities to their fullest.  This bill allows important research to advance and creates an ethical framework to ensure that it is done appropriately.

"H.R. 3 would expand the limited number of stem cell lines currently available for federally-funded research by allowing funds to be used for research on cell lines created from excess embryos from in vitro fertilization clinics, regardless of when the cell lines were derived.  These embryos are in excess of clinical need and would otherwise be discarded as medical waste.  Individuals who choose to donate these embryos must give written consent and would not receive any monetary compensation for the donation."

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.  www.bio.org

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