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The notion that doctors could one day use embryonic stem cells to treat serious diseases has been controversial ever since the first stem cells were isolated from human embryos in 1998.
With vehement public outcry from both sides of the issue, U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush struggled to find a policy medium that would quiet the furor. Citing ethical and religious objections to destroying human embryos, Bush banned federal funding for research on stem cells.
On March 9, 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order repealing the Bush ban. President Obama cited the importance of scientific research integrity as one of the reasons for his announcement. Shortly after, the first clinical trials involving embryonic stem cell research on humans began at Geron, a revolutionary biotech company. Although the trials were halted for financial reasons, some of the patients who received stem cell transplants are beginning to exhibit positive outcomes. So what exactly does the future hold for stem cell therapy, and should we as a society proceed with its use?
On this episode of Inside E Street, Lark McCarthy is joined by Mahendra Rao, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, for a special talk on the latest innovative findings related to stem cells. We are also joined by David Prentice, of the Family Research Council, and Amy Comstock Rick, CEO of the Parkinson’s Action Network, for a panel discussion on another type of cells – so-called iPS cells – and the future of adult stem cell research.
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Richard M. Cohen | Health Columnist
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