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US stem cell news

27 March 2006
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 351

The House of Representatives in the US state of Kansas has approved a bill promoting adult and umbilical cord blood stem cell research, while voting against a bill that would have allowed scientists to create chimeras. The members of the House voted 121-4 in favour of the bill that would provide state funding for research using adult stem cells and those obtained from umbilical cord blood, and tax incentives for people who contribute to a new adult stem cell research fund. State Representative Mary Pilcher Cook, who sponsored the bill, said that 'we still need to ban human cloning, but at the same time, we need to let people know where the success is'. Meanwhile, the Kansas state Senate has voted 25-15 against an amendment to the budget that would have prevented the state spending public money on embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research, including the cloning of embryos for research purposes.

In Maryland, leaders of the House of Delegates say that they are abandoning plans to find a compromise version of an ES cell research funding bill - instead they will pass a Senate bill planned for this week. This is less expansive than a bill passed by the House earlier this month. While the bill that passed through the House would mandate $25 million of state funds per year for ES cell research, the Senate version would not specify the sum but would leave it to future governors to allocate funds. Having narrowly survived a filibuster attempt earlier this month, leaders of the House say that the compromise is probably the 'best they can hope for this season'. 'We support the Senate bill', said Kumar Barve, leader of the House, adding 'we just wish it had money in it'.

In Michigan, where using embryos for ES cell research is currently prohibited, the debate on a bill that would overturn the ban is continuing. The House Health Policy Committee heard from supporters and opponents of the bill - which would increase the criminal penalty for human reproductive cloning while allowing embryos to be cloned for research and individual treatment purposes - last week. Opponents said that to allow ES cell research would open the door to human cloning for the purpose of destroying life. Supporters argued that the potential medical benefits of the research are 'almost limitless'. State Representative Andrew Meisner, who sponsored the bill, said that Michigan's current laws on ES cell research are 'among the most restrictive in the nation' but that the law 'does not protect a single embryo from destruction. It only delays medical research'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
House to Defer to Senate On Stem Cell Research
The Washington Post |  21 March 2006
Kansas Senate Rejects Ban on Taxpayer Funding of Human Cloning
LifeNews.com |  23 March 2006
Opinions clash at state hearing on stem cell research
Lansing State Journal |  22 March 2006
Plan advances to encourage stem cell alternatives
Associated Press |  23 March 2006
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