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AAAS Urges Comprehensive Effort on Stem Cells
With a vote expected in the Senate on several bills related to stem cell research, the AAAS has urged that federally funded researchers be granted access to additional embryonic stem cell lines as part of a comprehensive effort to learn more about both adult and embryonic stem cells.
In a 14 July letter to each member of the Senate, AAAS Board of Directors Chairman Gilbert Omenn and CEO Alan I. Leshner said the lawmakers have an opportunity to follow the House in passing legislation that would authorize federal spending for research on new stem cell lines from embryos slated for destruction at fertility clinics.
President Bush issued a directive in August, 2001 that allows federally funded researchers to use only those embryonic stem cell lines already in existence at the time of his decision. Stem cells from 21 such pre-existing lines are now available, but researchers argue that many of the lines are not suitable for their particular research.
The AAAS Board of Directors issued a statement shortly after Bush’s decision asking that it be periodically reassessed by policymakers so the potential benefits of stem cell research can be fully realized.
AAAS recently testified before the Senate Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Subcommittee on stem cell research, and said it is appropriate for Congress to promote research on both human embryonic stem cells and on alternative methods that do not require the use of embryos, including research using stem cells from adult tissues.
In their letter to the members of the Senate, Omenn and Leshner wrote, “We owe it to all those who may be helped by such research in the future to pursue all avenues of potential treatments and cures for serious diseases.”
For the text of Omenn and Leshner’s letter, click here.
14 July 2006