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Stem cell research receives Crowley nod

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The bill passed 238-194 with substantial Republican support, but was 42 votes short of the 290 needed to override a promised veto by President Bush.The legislation now heads to the Senate where it is expected to be considered sometime during the next several weeks.Crowley warned that if the United States does not pursue such research, the country could lose its position of preeminence in the world of medical science."Clearly the president has no interest in making sure the United States is at the forefront of science and medical treatment," Crowley said in a statement. "The stem cell bill offers new hope to Americans suffering from diseases like Alzheimer's, childhood diabetes and spinal cord injuries." Opponents of such research, such as the Catholic Church and right-to-life organizations, say that using embryonic stem cells destroys a human life and involves a form of cloning. They believe that adult stem cell research, and not embryonic stem cell research, will yield cures.The Queens regional director for the New York State Right to Life, Eric Ulrich, said last week that he was disappointed in the House vote."Nobody wants to see the United States left behind. We've seen enough of our jobs go overseas- we don't want to be left behind. But there has been no human trial to prove that the research will work," he said.The legislation seeks to direct federal funding for new lines of embryonic stem cell research. A stem cell is a cell in the human body that has not yet differentiated into a particular cell and so potentially can develop into any cell in the body. This possibility has enormous potential for medicine since scientists think that within a decade stem cells could be injected into a spinal cord, for example, and regenerate damaged nerve tissue.Stem cells can be derived from any cell in the body, but supporters of the legislation believe embryonic stem cells offer the best chance because they can be converted more easily into a wider array of adult cells and are easier to develop.Ulrich does not believe this to be credible. Injecting embryonic stem cells into a human would be dangerous, he argues. He is also troubled by the destruction of any embryo, which could potentially become a person.He supports the status quo, outlined by Bush, which allows federal funding for research on the existing 22 to 78 lines of embryonic stem cells, and on all types adult stem cells.But the bill's supporters say there need to be additional embryonic stem cell lines since the dozens that currently exist are contaminate with animal cells which make them unusable for study."The time has arrived for Congress to unshackle our researchers and scientists and allow them to expand the number of stem cell lines that are eligible for federally-funded research," said U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) during the debate before the May 24 vote.Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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