Stem Cell News Update

Dr. Steve Stice is in the on deck circle. We will be featuring his work in developing neural stem cell based assays for use in drug discovery. These platforms have the potential to help more efficiently and accuratelyidentify targets for pain, neurodegeneration and other CNS and PNS related diseases.

As a back drop, we wanted to feature several updates. First is a brief summary of the current positions of the Presidential Candidates.

Sen. John McCain

.- John McCain has set his sights on Florida as the state’s primary draws closer. In a conversation with Catholics in Florida and CNA this afternoon, McCain maintained his support for embryonic stem cell research while emphasizing his hope that it will become an academic issue given the latest scientific advances.

When he was asked how he reconciled his otherwise solid pro-life voting record with his support for experimentation on “surplus” embryos, Sen. McCain called his decision to back the research “a very agonizing and tough decision”. He continued, saying, “All I can say to you is that I went back and forth, back and forth on it and I came in on one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had, in favor of that research. And one reason being very frankly is those embryos will be either discarded or kept in permanent frozen status.” The senator, while standing firm on his decision added, “I understand how divisive this is among the pro-life community.”

Referring to the recent break through in stem cell research which allows scientists to use skin cells to create stem cells, McCain said that, “I believe that skin stem cell research has every potential very soon of making that discussion academic…. Sam Brownback and others are very encouraged at this latest advance….”’

Sen. Barack Obama
Advocates increased stem cell research. Campaign Web site states: “We owe it to the American public to explore the potential of stem cells to treat the millions of people suffering from debilitating and life-threatening diseases.” Supported legislation during his tenure in the Illinois Senate that allowed embryonic stem cell research in that state.Opposes human cloning.

Voted in support of these congressional stem-cell bills:

– The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which amends the Public Health Service Act to provide for human embryonic stem cell research.

– The Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act, which promotes research into deriving stem cell lines by methods “that do not knowingly harm embryos.”

– The Fetal Farming Bill of 2006, which prohibits the “solicitation or acceptance of tissue from embryos gestated for research purposes.”

He was one of the co-sponsors of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 (S. 5), which expands the number of human embryonic stem cells eligible for federally funded research.

Regardless…research using cells derived from government approved cell lines and aborted/miscarried fetuses marches into the face of uncertain funding and a raging moral debate. Both candidates are taking risks and demonstrating leadership…in the season of hope and new beginnings, I look foward to cogent policy and funding levels that enable the development of therapies that treat the millions of people suffering from debiliatating diseases.

An alternative, though in its infancy, could be induced pluripotency (iPS).

Here’s a recent interview with Dr. James Thompson who published the first two papers on making human iPS cells.

Nature Reports Stem Cells
Published online: 14 August 2008 | doi:10.1038/stemcells.2008.118

James Thomson: shifts from embryonic stem cells to induced pluripotency

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