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STEM CELLS’ Position Statement on hESC Research

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Unfortunately, on August 23, 2010 the Federal District Court (FDC) in Washington, DC issued a decision that blocks federal funding for hESC research. “We believe this is a retrograde step and that governmental support for all types of stem cells is warranted,” said Dr. Martin J. Murphy, Jr., Executive Editor of STEM CELLS®. Human embryonic stem cell research is important, since it helps researchers understand early human development, improve drug screening, and may develop regenerative medicine. The decision issued by Judge Royce Lambreth will have a detrimental impact on research in the United States and worldwide, since hESCs are the only cells that can differentiate into more than 200 different cell types found in the adult human body. “Therefore we believe that research using previously approved NIH hESC lines should continue without prejudice. This research has been always been based on ethical scientific facts and, as such, they are essential in our efforts to treat a variety of illnesses,” said Dr. Miodrag Stojkovic, Editor of STEM CELLS®

“There have been tremendous advances toward developing stem cells treatments for incurable diseases through the understanding that has come from studying embryonic stem cells, and much of this groundbreaking work has been published in STEM CELLS®. This legal injunction acts to remove hope from those patients who are awaiting cures.  We have worked with adult stem cells for over 20 years. They are interesting cells. Hematopoietic stem cells can replace the blood forming system and mesenchymal stem cells can act as "paramedics" to help heal damaged tissues and promote revascularization. But this occurs through the release of factors at the site of tissue damage. These cells unfortunately can not make an entire tissue. They do not replace the working cells of the liver, kidney, pancreas or brain for instance. In contrast, we know that embryonic stem cells can generate any tissue, for possible future replacement therapies.  The new field of induced pluripotent stem cells brings us a possible future alternative to the use of hESC, and this field is exciting because we can envision making patients their own cell line. However this cell type is new, under-studied, and must be compared to the gold standard of hESCs at every step of experimentation, “ said Dr. Jan A. Nolta, Associate Editor of  STEM CELLS.®

The aim of our Journal is to continue to advance stem cell research, including those using hESC, and we call for equal federal funding for all types of stem cells.  We need them all to effectively discover and deploy improved outcomes for patients suffering from catastrophic diseases.  Removing funding for embryonic stem cells effectively cuts off this promising area of research, placing in jeopardy treatments for patients who so desperately need them.

 

Miodrag Stojkovic, Editor

Mark F. Pittenger, Jan A. Nolta,  Majlinda Lako,  Associate Editors

Terry R.J. Lappin, Concise Review Editor

Martin J. Murphy, Jr., Executive Editor