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Testimony on Stem Cell Research in New Jersey
To the New Jersey Senate HHSSC Committee 25 Nov 02
Wise Young, Ph.D., M.D.
Professor II & Chair, Dept. of Cell Biology & Neuroscience
W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience
Nelson Biological Laborotories, D-wing, 2nd floor
Busch Campus, 604 Allison Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854
Tel: 732-445-2061, Fax: 732-445-2063,
I am Wise Young, Professor and Chair of Cell Biology & Neuroscience at Rutgers University, and a member of the W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience. I am grateful for the opportunity to testify before the New Jersey Senate Health Human Services & Senior Citizens Committee to support S1909. Since many people have already testified to the committee about the definitions and the promise of stem cells, I will restrict my comments to three points.
First, stem cells come from many sources, including frozen eggs from fertility clinics, umbilical cord blood, as well as adult bone marrow, brain, skin, and even fat. All these sources are important and we do not know enough to rule any of these sources out. I want to emphasize how new stem cell science is. Scientists learned to culture embryonic stem cells only in 1998. The first demonstration of pluripotent adult stem cells was in 1999. We should not close the door on any of these stem cell sources now.
Second, some people believe that they are saving embryos by opposing embryonic stem cell research. Stopping embryonic stem cell research does not save these embryos. Thousands of frozen eggs are discarded every year by fertility clinics. These eggs are not wanted by their parents and many have been frozen too long to be usable. However, these frozen fertilized eggs can provide stem cells for research and therapy. Availability of unregulated commercial destruction of embryos and fetuses to produce stem cells. Opposition to embryonic stem cells research may be paradoxically encouraging destruction of more embryos.
Third, even if adult stem cells turn out to be useful for treating some human disease, we still need embryonic stem cells research. Human embryonic stem cells are an important tool for assessing toxic effects of drugs and chemicals on embryonic cells. Embryonic stem cells may be more sensitive to certain drugs and chemotherapies. Human embryonic stem cells are essential for studying and understanding human development and embyrogenesis. Such research may save the lives of many embryos.
I strongly support SR1909. It is not only scientifically but morally right for millions of people will benefit from stem cell therapies. Combined with Assembly Bill 1394 proposed by Assemblyman Louis Greenwald which proposes a umbilical cord blood stem cell bank for New Jersey, SR1909 will make New Jersey the stem cell state.