U.S. Government to Open National Stem Cell Bank at NIH

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 14, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

U.S. Government to Open National Stem Cell Bank at NIH

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 14, 2004

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — In an attempt to satisfy researchers and lawmakers who want President Bush to provide taxpayer funding for new embryonic stem cell research, the Bush administration announced that it is creating three stem cell research centers.

The centers will promote adult stem cell research and speed up research on the embryonic stem cell lines already available.

The National Institutes of Health intends to spend as much as $18 million over the next four years to establish the stem cell centers, according to an Associated Press report.

One goal the centers hope to fulfill is to make more readily available the embryonic stem cell lines that have already been paid for with federal money.

In a letter he will send to members of Congress today, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said, "Before anyone can argue that the stem cell policy should be broadened, we must first exhaust the potential" of currently available embryonic stem cell lines.

But advocates of more funding for the destructive research aren’t satisfied.

Keith Yamamoto, executive vice medical dean at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Associated Press that the announcement is just "window dressing."

"The call for more cell lines is not simply that scientists want more of the same," Yamamoto said. "The fundamental questions we need to ask come partly from what we learn by deriving them."

However, pro-life advocates say that several research universities — including Yamamoto’s –are already producing new embryonic stem cell lines and are doing so with their own money rather than forcing taxpayer to fund something they find objectionable.

"We support President Bush’s efforts to ensure that tax dollars do not fund research that would require the killing of human embryos," Darla St. Martin, associate director of the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews.com.

In August 2001, President Bush announced a policy preventing the use of federal funds from the Health and Human Services Department for any new embryonic stem cell research.

The move upset some scientists who said the 19 embryonic stem cells obtain to that date were mostly contaminated with animal cells and not useful.

The new National Embryonic Stem Cell Bank would take samples form those 19 embryonic stem cell lines and grow them under similar conditions that would improve the effectiveness of the embryonic cells. The stem cells banks would also lower the cost of the cells for researchers to purchase.

Members of Congress are attempting to overturn Bush’s funding decision, though a vote on any such legislation isn’t expected until next year.

Related web sites:
Do No Harm – https://www.stemcellresearch.org