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Christopher Reeve, actor and campaigner, dies

11 October 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 279

Christopher Reeve, the actor most famous for playing Superman, has died at the age of 52. Reeve was paralysed from the neck down after a horse riding accident in 1995. He recently developed a pressure sore, a common side-effect for people confined to wheelchairs, and the sore became seriously infected. Reeve had been treated in Northern Westchester Hospital but after going home he fell into a coma, before going into cardiac arrest.

Since his accident, Christopher Reeve has been a campaigner for medical research into spinal cord injuries, and set up his own Paralysis Foundation. One of the areas he campaigned in was that of embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research, believing that one day it would be possible to use stem cell technology to grow nerve cells, which could help people like himself walk again. He was also a supporter of 'therapeutic cloning', the proposed use of stem cells derived from an embryo cloned from a patient's own cell, to avoid rejection by the patient's immune system. ES cell research is limited in the US, while therapeutic cloning is not permitted, and President Bush is pushing for an international ban on this technology.

Christopher Reeve used his famous face to raise the profile of the issue of ES cell research in America and world-wide. He is one of a number of famous names who have given their support to such medical research. His support of the research has helped it emerge as a major issue in the presidential election campaign between George Bush and Democratic candidate John Kerry. Only two days before his death, Kerry spoke about him in the second presidential debate. Kerry said he favours further ES cell research, adding that he was a friend of Reeve who may 'one day walk again thanks to such science'.

Newspapers and websites report that tributes have 'poured in' since Reeve's death. Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the UK's Medical Research Council, said that he was known for his 'campaigning and his courage', adding 'it is absolutely wrong to raise false expectations about the speed with which medical research progresses, but it takes people like Reeve, with their commitment and their certainty that they will be cured, to carry it forward'. His family has requested that those people who wish to send gifts should make a donation in his honour to the Foundation, in order to continue the campaign for medical research.

Actor used plight to highlight stem cell research
The Scotsman |  11 October 2004
Christopher Reeve, 52
The Globe and Mail |  11 October 2004
Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation Mourns the Death of its Chairman Christopher Reeve
Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation |  11 April 2004
Reeve: the research campaigner
BBC News Online |  11 October 2004
11 October 2004 - by BioNews 
John Kerry, the US Democratic presidential candidate, has teamed up with Michael J Fox, the actor, to criticise President Bush's policy on embryonic stem (ES) cell research. The policy, which has been in place since 9 August 2001, restricts federally-funded researchers to working on ES cell lines already created by...
1 June 2004 - by BioNews 
A number of scientists and others will lobby members of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) at a scientific conference on Wednesday, in favour of human cloning for embryonic stem (ES) cell research. They hope to break a 'diplomatic deadlock' over whether an international treaty banning human reproductive...
12 January 2004 - by BioNews 
The legislature of the US state of New Jersey has taken major steps towards allowing embryo stem (ES) cell research. In December, the state assembly passed a bill by 41-31 specifically promoting ES cell research - making it only the second state in the US to do so. Last week...
23 September 2002 - by BioNews 
Christopher Reeve, the American actor who once played 'Superman', has criticised the Roman Catholic Church and President Bush in an interview with the UK's Guardian newspaper. Reeve, who was paralysed after a horse-riding accident seven years ago, claims the policies of the church and the president have 'obstructed research' - including...
26 February 2002 - by BioNews 
Christopher Reeve, the actor who played Superman, has been actively endorsing embryo stem cell research. Last week, he attended a conference in the US where he said he strongly supported legislation banning human reproductive cloning but permitting therapeutic cloning and embryo stem cell research. Reeve, who was paralysed by a...
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