Monday, March 09, 2009

Obama eases restrictions on stem cell research

President Obama signed an executive order today allowing more research on human embryonic stem cells. His predecessor had limited testing to a handful of existing stem cell lines, but problems with those lines have made the restriction even tighter than Bush had planned.

Obama's move will allow stem cell lines to be developed only from embryos that would have been destroyed anyway. And his order does not remove all restrictions; it's up to Congress to do that. There's been bipartisan support for doing that in the past, and polls show that upwards of 60% of Americans support this research. My guess is that ultimately we'll find the best therapeutic results with stem cells from our own bodies, whether they are taken from our umbilical cord or from our adult bodies, but only more research will let us know for sure.

More from the New York Times:

The Bush administration, in a careful compromise eight years ago, allowed tax dollars to support studies on a small number of existing lines, or colonies, of stem cells that had already been derived from embryos, though not on creating new lines. That meant that a provision renewed by Congress every year since 1996, banning research in which embryos are destroyed, no longer stood as an absolute barrier to the stem cell work.

Mr. Obama’s new executive order will open the door wider, but not as wide as Congress would if it were to remove its legislative restrictions.

Because embryonic stem cells are capable of developing into any type of cell or tissue in the body, many scientists believe they hold the possibility for treatments and cures for ailments as varied as diabetes, Parkinson’s and heart disease. Some researchers say stem cells may someday be used to treat catastrophic injuries, such as spinal-cord damage.


Nancy Reagan said she is "very grateful" for Obama's move and went on to say, "Countless people, suffering from many different diseases, stand to benefit from the answers stem cell research can provide."

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Blogger Voicedup said...

Let's think of how many Americans are suffering from ailments and what this research can do for them. I'm sure everyone reading this knows someone important to them that is affected by one of these maladies.

6:24 PM  

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