In 2001 the White House placed limits on the types of embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR) that could be funded by NIH research dollars. Specifically, all embryonic stem-cell lines created after August 9, 2001 remain ineligible for federal funding. Federally supported researchers are now forced to rely on 21 outdated lines of stem cells to conduct their work, when over 400 new lines exist.
Congress passed legislation in 2007 (similar to the Castle-DeGette legislation vetoed by President Bush the previous year) to repeal these limitations. S. 5 cleared both the Senate and the House, but was vetoed by President Bush on June 20, 2007.
Most scientists and members of the public recognize the potential of both adult and embryonic stem-cell therapies to treat and perhaps cure conditions such as Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries. Even as new developments unfold, such as the announcement in November 2007 of two methods of deriving embryonic stem cells that do not involve the use of embryos, the scientists behind this promising research call for continued ESCR support. Without full and proper access and support for adult and embryonic stem-cell research alike, America will continue to lose ground in the hunt for timely and effective stem-cell therapies.
The AAN Professional Association (Academy) position statement on ESCR (available in our toolkit, right) calls for full federal support of all ethically sanctioned forms of stem-cell research, including therapeutic cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer, known also as SCNT). The Academy also calls for increased oversight of all stem-cell research, and a ban on reproductive cloning.
The Academy has long supported state and federal legislation to expand the range of embryonic stem-cell lines eligible for government funding, and to promote high standards of scientific and ethical scrutiny for ESCR. In 2007 the Academy joined the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, America's leading advocacy group on the issue of stem-cell research. As part of CAMR, the Academy will collaboratively work to improve access to research and therapy options for American scientists, physicians, and--most important--patients.
The Academy has developed an advocacy toolkit (to the right) to help you advocate on this important issue.