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Advancing Stem Cell Research In Ethical, Responsible Ways
Research Has Justified President Bush’s Commitment To Support Responsible Research On Pluripotent Stem Cells

President Bush’s Balanced Stem Cell Policies Are Helping Advance Science And Ethics Together

In 2001, President Bush announced a balanced approach to stem cell research that would allow Federal funding for research using existing embryonic stem cell lines. This policy allowed the Federal government to support research on dozens of existing stem cell lines without sanctioning or encouraging the destruction of additional human embryos.

President Bush is the first President to provide Federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. Since 2001, the Administration has made more than $170 million available for research on stem cell lines derived from human embryos that had already been destroyed. In addition, the Administration has provided nearly $3.7 billion for research on all forms of stem cells, including those from adult and other non-embryonic sources.

The President opposes any attempt to compel American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos. He believes that by enacting appropriate policy safeguards while encouraging the development of new scientific techniques, it is possible to advance science and medicine without violating moral principles.

President Bush has encouraged scientific advancement of stem cell research within ethical boundaries by avoiding techniques that destroy life, while vigorously supporting alternative approaches. Research indicates that pluripotent stem cells – those that have the potential to develop into nearly all the cell types and tissues in the body – can be derived without using or harming embryos. The President has long supported these non-embryonic techniques, and there has been exciting progress over the past couple of years:

  • In November 2007, several new studies showed the potential of reprogramming adult cells, such as skin cells, to make them function like embryonic stem cells.
  • Since then, researchers have increasingly used these ethically uncontroversial cells in the same kinds of research for which embryonic stem cells had been used, and numerous published studies have now shown their usefulness.
  • As of October 2008, it is estimated that more than 800 labs are now using these new uncontroversial cells.

The President has acted to strengthen our Nation’s commitment to conduct research on pluripotent stem cells. In June 2007, he signed an Executive Order to expand support for these non-destructive research methods and make it more likely that exciting advances in this area will continue. The Order:

  • Invited scientists to work with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to add new ethically derived, human pluripotent stem cell lines to the list of those eligible for Federal funding.
  • Directed the Department of Health and Human Services and the NIH to ensure that any human pluripotent stem cell lines produced in ways that do not create, destroy, or harm human embryos will be eligible for Federal funding.
  • Expanded the NIH’s Embryonic Stem Cell Registry to include all types of ethically produced human pluripotent stem cells. The NIH is planning to add to the Registry new pluripotent stem cell lines that are not derived from embryos.
  • Renamed the registry the Pluripotent Stem Cell Registry – so that it reflects what the stem cells can do, instead of where they come from.

In September 2007, the NIH implemented the President’s Executive Order. The plan contained a number of new or accelerated activities, including two fresh funding streams to stimulate research on human pluripotent stem cells derived from non-embryonic sources:

  • The NIH Stem Cell Task Force developed a pair of program announcements to solicit grant applications for research on human pluripotent stem cells derived from non-embryonic sources. 
  • In addition, the Stem Cell Task Force developed another funding opportunity to rapidly stimulate research in human pluripotent stem cells from non-embryonic sources. This initiative awarded additional funding to NIH-supported researchers already working in stem cell research to supplement certain areas of their work that are of particular interest to NIH.

In April 2008, the Department of Defense announced the creation of the Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM), a new partnership among the Federal government, universities, and private companies. Regenerative medicine is a promising new field focused on the repair and replacement of tissues and organs, which has been made possible in part by progress in stem cell research. The Center’s goal is to take ethical stem cell-based innovations out of the lab and make them a life-improving reality for our wounded warriors and other Americans.

In his 2008 State of the Union Address, President Bush called on Congress to pass legislation that bans unethical practices such as the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life.

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