Sluggish Growth in Stem Cell Research Linked to the Therapeutic Cloning Debate -- Scientists Hesitant to Risk Careers in a Political Minefield


Story Filed: Thursday, August 08, 2002 5:46 PM EST

WASHINGTON, Aug 08, 2002 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- On the one-year anniversary of President Bush's policy on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, the Alliance For Aging Research today pointed to the heated therapeutic cloning debate as one reason for the slow pace of stem cell research. Due to the highly visible political deliberations, scientists are turning their talents elsewhere to less contentious research. Combined with President Bush's limited policy on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, his opposition to therapeutic cloning creates yet another barrier for pioneering American researchers to lead the way in this new frontier of regenerative medicine.

"We knew a year ago that based upon the restricted number of cell lines, advances in this area of study would be severely limited," said Daniel Perry, executive director for the Alliance. "What we didn't appreciate at the time was that the debate on therapeutic cloning would further discourage bright scientists from entering the field."

"We are seeing barrier after barrier thrown in the path of the scientists. It is no surprise that these researchers are not flocking to this field even though NIH has made grants available," continued Perry. "While we agree that appropriate debate needs to occur to educate decision makers on therapeutic cloning, we cannot let this battle serve as a hindrance to scientists to enter this field of study. Stem cell research needs to be removed out from under the political microscope or we will never fully appreciate the potential of these life-altering cells."

Americans who are suffering from the devastating effects of diseases like diabetes, Parkinson's and spinal cord injuries continue to have their waiting periods cruelly extended. Slowing the progress of such a promising avenue of research is difficult, if not impossible, to justify to people who are facing catastrophic illness. While Baby Boomers lead the way, Americans of all ages understand the vast potential of these miracle cells and want to benefit from the breakthroughs they may create. They are not concerned with political abstractions.

"We encourage the President and Congress to remove these barriers so that millions of Americans can benefit from the life-saving treatments and cures that both stem cell research and therapeutic cloning may offer," stated Perry.

The Alliance For Aging Research agrees with the recommendations released yesterday by the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, which urged President Bush to revisit his year-old policy on embryonic stem cell research. The policy should be revised to encourage, rather than discourage, scientists to focus their time and talents on this exciting and life-saving research.


SOURCE Alliance For Aging Research

CONTACT: Amber McCracken of the Alliance For Aging Research,
+1-202-293-2856 ext., 116


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