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Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research Releases New White Paper, 'Catalyst for Cures: Embryonic Stem Cell Research'
Date:1/14/2009

- National Poll Reveals Three-Quarters of Americans Want President-Elect Obama to Deliver on Campaign Commitment to Lift Restrictions on Embryonic Stem Cell Research -

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) today released a white paper, Catalyst For Cures: Embryonic Stem Cell Research, which outlines the views of nine of the nation's leading scientists on the promises and challenges of embryonic stem cell research. In support for the scientific community's call for reversal of the current restrictions on funding for stem cell research, the group also released the results of a national poll conducted this month for CAMR by Opinion Research Corporation indicating that nearly three-quarters (73%) of Americans believe that President-elect Obama should keep his pledge to lift existing federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the announcements by James Thomson and John Gearhart that each had successfully grown the first human pluripotent stem cell lines in culture, the White Paper proclaims that "with the knowledge gained in the past decade, stem cell research is more promising than ever."

Despite limited funding, scientists have made great strides in using these primary cells to understand what goes wrong in disease and have begun devising promising new therapies for devastating conditions, such as heart disease, spinal cord injury, and diabetes. Conversations with some of the nation's top stem cell researchers -- in academia and industry -- make clear that, with removal of limits on Federal funding, embryonic stem cell research will fulfill its promise in broader ways than originally anticipated.

"It's time for the federal government to support the broad range of stem cell research so that the greatest public benefit can be achieved on the shoulders of the last 10 years' accomplishments," said Amy Comstock Rick, president of CAMR. "We are hopeful that President-elect Obama will deliver on his campaign commitment to lift the current restrictions, and allow scientists to deliver on the promise of embryonic stem cell research."

Catalyst for Cures: Embryonic Stem Cell Research shares experts' viewpoints and assessments of embryonic stem cell research to date, and takes a bold look at where this research might lead in the coming years. Some highlights include:

"I'd be very surprised if, during the course of my scientific career, the next 20 years, we don't have much better therapies for Parkinson's disease, based on the fact that we have these hESC-derived tissues in culture," says James Thomson.

Many scientists have been studying adult stem cells and learning more about their utility and their limitations. So far, adult stem cells have only successfully been used in a very narrow area: blood system reconstitution, including bone marrow transplant, umbilical cord transplant, and peripheral blood transplant. "The argument that there are 60 to 70 diseases that can be cured with adult stem cells was never credible," says Sean Morrison, University of Michigan.

Biotech firms are revving up, focused on toxicity screening and drug development. A few are aggressively pursuing hES cell-based therapies. Big Pharma is also beginning to invest in stem cells. "Embryonic stem cells are a source of cells for predictive toxicology and drug discovery," says consultant and former Novocell executive Melissa Carpenter.

The Paper concludes that, "scientists see great promise in efforts to improve therapies for diabetes, Parkinson's disease, macular degeneration, cancer, spinal cord injuries, and heart disease. The time for removal of restrictions, expanded support, and implementation of relevant oversight guidelines is now."

The full text of Catalyst for Cures: Embryonic Stem Cell Research is available on the CAMR web site at www.camradvocacy.com.

The following researchers and thought leaders contributed to this white paper:

Melissa K. Carpenter, Ph.D., former Vice President of Research and Development at Novocell Inc., and Director of Stem Cell Biology at Geron Corporation; George Daley, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School; Kevin C. Eggan, Ph.D., Principal Faculty, Harvard Stem Cell Institute; John P. Gearhart, M.D., Director, Institute for Regenerative Medicine at University of Pennsylvania; Ole Isacson, Dr.Med.Sci., Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School; Hans Keirstead, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Anatomy and Neurobiology at University of California, Irvine; Douglas A. Melton, Ph.D., Co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute; Sean J. Morrison, Ph.D., Director, University of Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology; and James Thomson, V.M.D., Ph.D., Director of Regenerative Biology at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

About the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research

The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) -- the leading pro-cures coalition -- is comprised of nationally recognized patient organizations, universities, scientific societies, foundations, and individuals with life-threatening illnesses and disorders, advocating for the advancement of breakthrough research and technologies in regenerative medicine -- including stem cell research -- to cure disease and alleviate suffering. For more information on CAMR, visit www.camradvocacy.org.


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SOURCE Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research
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