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Christian Groups Sue to Block Stem Cell Research

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Caplan tells WebMD, "I think that we may see some government funding for limited stem cell research, because there is such a substantial lobby for it. Not just the scientific community, not just a single disease group, but many groups. And these groups also may be able to touch a particular congressman who has an ailment that they say might be helped." In contrast, he says, groups such as those who just sued the government are "small fringe groups."

The opponents of the embryonic stem cell research argued Thursday that adult stem cells may be just as effective in fighting disease, while presenting little of the ethical controversy.

According to Leshen, however, "We need to study all kinds -- fetal tissue cells, embryonic stem cells, and adult stem cells, in parallel. We can't wait the five or 10 years it's going to take to figure out whether or not one is going to work better than the other. Scientists think that embryonic cells have the most promise at this point. If it turns out that some other form of cells works better, then they'll pursue that line."

A study in the prominent The New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday dealt a blow to fetal tissue transplants. Injections of fetal brain cells to treat Parkinson's disease proved disappointing, researchers reported, with no improvement in those patients compared to a control group.

These findings, Caplan tells WebMD, "should be a stark reminder that stem cell research is a promise and a hope, but by no means a guarantee. I personally am getting emails from people all around the country saying, 'I have this disease or that disease, can you tell me how to get stem cells.' That kind of thing is sad."

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