Florida's Governor pushes lethal stem cell research


WASHINGTON — Florida's new Republican governor, Charlie Crist, is backing a bill to fund stem cell research that destroys embryos.

A Democratic legislator, Rep. Franklin Sands of Weston, introduced a bill Jan. 23 requiring the state to provide at least $20 million annually for 10 years for research using embryonic and non-embryonic stem cells, according to AP.

Embryonic experimentation is controversial because the extraction of stem cells from an embryo results in the death of the days-old human being. Non-embryonic stem cells are procured without harming the donor.

After the bill was introduced, Crist said the issue is a priority for him.

"I think it's important, and we talked about it during the campaign, because of the promise it has for maybe the curing ... of many diseases and maladies that exist for a lot of our citizens," he said, AP reported.

"There's so many areas and so many things that can be helped by this kind of research, and I think caring, compassionate people get that," Crist said. "So I don't think it's going to be facing that much resistance. That's my hope."

Crist's predecessor, Republican Jeb Bush, opposed the bill, however, as did many GOP leaders in the legislature. The measure did not receive a floor vote last year, AP reported.

In other news
Ethcial stem cell research providing hope

WASHINGTON — Stem cell research that does not destroy embryos continues to produce hopeful results, including for the treatment of diabetes.

South Korean scientists grew pancreatic beta cells, which can aid in treating diabetes, using stem cells from umbilical cord blood, the team announced Jan. 23, according to The Korea Times. Beta cells in the pancreas make insulin, the absence of which can cause diabetes.

"We hope cord blood stem cell-related advances will help [diabetics]," said Kang Kyung-sun, a Seoul National University professor who directs the research team, The Times reported. "It will enable patients to grapple with diabetes without causing ethical debates, unlike that on embryonic stem cells."

Stem cells are the body's master cells that can develop into tissues and other cells, providing hope for the treatment of numerous afflictions. Embryonic research is opposed by many people because extracting stem cells requires the destruction of the days-old human being. Procuring stem cells from non-embryonic sources — such as umbilical cord blood, placentas, bone marrow and fat — does not require harm to the donor.

In another development announced Jan. 24, British and American researchers reported some stem cells from mothers are passed to the pancreases of their unborn children with type 1 diabetes and grow into beta cells, The Telegraph reported. The research suggests a mother's stem cells can be extracted to help treat a diabetic child, according to the British newspaper.

The newly published research by teams from Bristol University in England and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle showed there were no immune problems between the cells of the mother and her child.

There are about 20.8 million adults and children in the United States with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. From 5 to 10 percent of Americans with diabetes have type 1, according to the ADA's website. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body's failure to make insulin. Most American diabetic patients have type 2 diabetes, which results from the body's inability to use insulin properly, according to the ADA.

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