Spanish Diabetics Push for Stem Cell Research
Fri May 24, 2:53 PM ET

MADRID (Reuters Health) - A new legislative initiative will call for the scientific use of stem cells taken from embryos left over from assisted reproduction, following efforts by the Federation of Spanish Diabetics (news - web sites) (FEDE).

FEDE has gathered 535,000 signatures, surpassing the 500,000 required for presenting a legislative initiative, it announced at a press conference on Friday.

The group will be collecting names for the petition until June 30, Rafael Sanchez Olmos, president of the federation, told Reuters Health. In addition, FEDE plans to meet with other associations that have an interest in disabilities and degenerative diseases and organise similar initiatives.

"We will discuss our position to see if we can be united," he said.

FEDE calls for authorizing the import and use of embryonic stem cells, authorizing and regulating therapeutic cloning and authorizing the use of more than 30,000 frozen embryos currently stored in Spain for research purposes.

The Spanish socialist party (PSOE) expressed its support of the initiative in a meeting with FEDE on Friday. "We have maintained an intense dialogue with the federation. We are the only group that has met with FEDE," Jaime Lissavetzky, deputy of the PSOE, told Reuters Health.

Lissavetzky added that they will continue raising initiatives and questions on the use of stem cells for research. He said that PSOE will raise a parliamentary question to the government on the interpretation of the term "nonviable" as applied to embryos, because Spanish legislation allows the use of nonviable embryos for scientific research.

"Embryos that are more than 5 years old will not be used for implantation," said the deputy. In his opinion, this means they could be considered nonviable.

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