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Stem Cell Research Moving Ahead

Stem Cell Research Moving Ahead

Posted - Aug. 9, 2004 at 4:05 p.m.



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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingPresident Bush's wife and John Kerry's running-mate are waging the fight today over stem-cell research. Laura Bush says supporters of the research are over-playing its possible medical benefits. But John Edwards says Parkinson's Disease and other serious illnesses could be cured with breakthroughs using stem cells.

President Bush faces a formidable challenge from scientists. Forty-eight Nobel Prize winners have already publicly endorsed John Kerry. They say his stand on issues such as stem cell research is one big problem. “I have concluded that we should allow federal funds to be used for research on these existing stem cell lines, where the life and death decision has already been made.”

Almost four years ago, president bush restricted human embryonic stem cell research to sixty lines or colonies of cells that already existed. Today, only twelve are available to federally funded researchers.

Dr. Susan Fisher of UCSF says a lot of time has been wasted. But a new breakthrough is helping her to catch up. Dr. Fisher and her team created two new human embryonic stem cell lines, unlike any other now available to federally-funded researchers.

What's different with Dr. Fisher's new cells is they are fed on diet of human cells, and that has some big advantages.

The use of embryonic stem cells may cure a number of diseases. For Kathy Dodd, she's not sure stem cells will cure her husband of Alzheimer's disease, but still believes its a road worth traveling.

that road is taking some patients - including Americans - all the way to Beijing China where a radical new surgery is restoring some movement where there has long been none.

Dr. Fisher: “Most of the patients got back significant sensory function and some motor function. It was modest but it was definite.”

Those patients had spinal cord injuries. Dr. Fisher's work was funded in part by Geron Corp with a matching fund from the University of California. No federal funds were used.

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