October 19, 2004

CA Prop 71 to Commit $3bill to Stem Cell Research

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology

On Nov 2, California residents will vote on Prop 71, a contraversial but powerful measure that would commit $3 billion dollars of state money to ten years of stem cell (including embryonic stem cell) research.

Given the current federal ban on either creating new embryos or destroying existing frozen ones to obtain new stem cell populations, passing Prop 71 would place California miles ahead of any other state in the nation with respect to stem cell research.

Nerve cell bodies in the central nervous system (which includes the brain and the spinal cord) do not spontaneously regenerate in human beings, severely limiting the treatment options for those who have lost central nervous system cell populations due to spinal injuries, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, or similarly debilitating condtions. However, embryonic stem cells retain the special, short-lived potential to become any type of cell, depending on what chemical signals it recieves from its environment. The hope of stem cell research is that embryonic stem cells injected into damaged areas of the human brain and spinal cord will respond and become new, viable areas of nerve tissue, effectively replacing what was lost due to illness or injury.

Stem cell therapy has more potential to successfully treat conditions such as Parkinson's or paralysis, in which nerve tissue merely has to be replaced. For diseases such as Alzheimer's, in which replacement nerve cells would also have to make specific connections with other, existing cells in the brain, the problem becomes much more complicated.

Yet stem cell research still holds promise for complex brain diseases like Alzheimer's, or even schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. By using a technique called "therapeutic cloning", or "nuclear transfer", scientists can insert the genetic material from a stem cell into an egg, and then induce that egg to develop into an embryo with a specific genetic makeup. Scientists could potentially create embryonic stem cell lines from the genetic material of people with brain diseases, cells which could then be studied without fear of harming a person. Access to such engineered cell lines could dramatically advance the understanding of what causes complex brain diseases, and possibly bring about better treatments or preventions in the future.

Source: Los Angeles Times, Oct 17 2004.

Headline: Stem Cell Debate Focuses on Morality and Money; Prop. 71 would commit $3 billion to seeking cures for severe maladies using human embryos.

To learn more about stem cells, stem cell research, and the potential that such research holds for future therapies and the advancement of science, please see the NIH Stem Cell Basics website (http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/).


We must go ahead with this research. The potential to give people quality of life cannot be ignored. In fact it would be morally wrong not to try this.

Posted by: susan plastow at November 13, 2004 02:27 PM

I fully support stem cell research. I applaud California's lead & it is aborhent that Bush and others with such a short sighted view of health issues can successfully impede progress. I wonder if he is aware that his drinking problem is an illness and that thru heredity as well as environmental factors his children may develop a similar illness.

Unfortunately, until selfish & uneducated people w/ influence, like Bush, have family members suffer w/ debiltating illnesses there will be little incentive for the narrow minded to promote stem cell research.

I do believe that there has to be some standards adopted by AMA in concert w/ other agencies so their guidelines in place and enforced so the benefits are not driven by egoes and profits.

Posted by: Skip Rosenmutter at November 18, 2004 02:47 AM

Post a comment

Please enter this code to enable your comment -
Remember Me?
(you may use HTML tags for style)
* indicates required