Wasn’t there a Bill that promised to increase funding for (ethical) alternatives to embryonic stem cell research – using umbilical cord blood and other cells to produce embryonic-like stem cells? Will the Democratic controlled Senate and House re-examine that Bill?
Senator Harry Reid has promised long days for the first seven weeks in the new Congress. Speaker of the House to be Nancy Pelosi has laid out her priorities for her first 100 hours. Each has promised to bring back the legislation that the President vetoed in September, to use Federal funds on destructive embryonic stem cell research.
There’s no mention in the news articles of the other bill, the “Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act” by Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum (current Republican Senators from Pennsylvania).
The Alternative bill, and the House versions such as the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act, authored by Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), who was the chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus at that time, would have increased funds for research to find new ways to produce stem cells without destroying embryos. It would have been directed to the research on umbilical cord cells conducted at Galveston University of Texas Medical Branch in cooperation with NASA and researchers from the UK to produce embryonic stem cells from cord blood. Similar work has resulted in masses of functional liver tissue the size of pennies and in lung cells that function to produce surfactant. There’s also reports about blood vessels and heart valves that have been grown from cells in the amniotic fluid – so that babies who are found to have heart defects could have hope of transplants built from their own cells.
Unfortunately, what we’re hearing about in the news and on the blogs, is politics as usual (just as in Texas) – the embryonic stem cell funding bill that would over ride the Dickey Amendment and the President’s ruling of August 2001. It would also waste a ton of money, since so much would have to go to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Fund at the University of Wisconsin for the patent and royalty fees.