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Bush Backs Strictly Limited Stem Cell Research

Stem Cell Research

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Regardless of the number, many patient groups and scientists claim that limiting research to the existing cell lines isn't good enough. Council spokesman Chris Paladino tells WebMD, "Scientists and researchers are telling us that they need hundreds of cell lines."

According to NIH's June report, few studies have compared stem cell lines, each of which carries a unique genetic profile. "It may be that one source proves better for certain applications, and a different cell source proves better for others," the NIH said.

Myrl Weinberg, president of the National Health Council, said she was glad that Bush didn't ban all funding for the research, but was "very sorry that [he] did not recognize the need for developing additional stem cell lines, and that some life saving treatments may never be discovered."

Under the Bush decision, Weinberg said, "only privately funded scientists will have access to new cell lines," which "places a significant barrier in the path of knowledge."

On the other hand, Richard Doerflinger, an official with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that Bush had crossed a "moral line" by permitting research on cells that required the destruction of a human embryo. He said that the limits proposed by Bush could be unworkable, setting the stage for future destruction.

A range of "pro-life" religious groups have intensely pressured the Administration not to allow any government support of the research, citing a pledge Bush made in May to ban government funding for research that destroys "living" embryos. Last month, after Bush met with the Pope in Italy, the Vatican weighed in strongly against any embryonic research.

But those who support stem cell research have argued that having the U.S. government's enthusiastic lead in funding is crucial to a robust and publicly accountable exploration of possible cures for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes, and a host of other diseases.

A number of prominent Republican lawmakers who oppose abortion had weighed in to support the embryonic studies, including Sen. Bill Frist, MD, (R, Tenn.). Frist has offered a limited funding proposal similar to what Bush announced.

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