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|Stem Cell Research|
Hope for the Future: Stem Cells
ABC, along with over 70 percent of the American public, supports federal funding for stem cell research. This research will significantly aid researchers in the quest to better understand central nervous system ailments such as Parkinson’s, autism, spinal cord injury, depression and scizophrenia. Additionally, stem cell research has increasingly been an important part of developing new treatments and even cures for people with brain disorders. Human cellular models allow researchers to explore the basic biology of the healthy brain, and help understand what goes wrong in the brains of individuals with brain disorders.
There are numerous applications and approaches for using stem cells in neuroscience research. Stem cells can divide, and thus, are self-renewing, and can also become a more specialized cell types, so their use is of particular interest in neuroscience research aimed at developing treatments because many nerve cells do not divide. Additionally, patient-derived stem cells have been important in modeling diseases especially for conditions that are complicated and/or with unknown etiology.
Stem cell research now enables scientists to reprogram human adult cells, providing them with a new method for obtaining pluripotent stem cells, which can also theoretically develop into almost any of the body's roughly 200 cell types. The use of adult cells paves the way for better disease models, as cells are derived from patients with those diseases. For potential therapeutics, it may be possible to create stem cells genetically matched to individuals.
A great deal more work is needed to realize the potential of stem cell research.
ABC Opposes Human Reproductive Cloning
Along with all of the major scientific and professional medical societies, the ABC supports a ban on human reproductive cloning. Therapeutic cloning reproduces stem cells with the aim of creating new tissues to replace damaged tissues. It does not recreate an entire human being. In other words, stem cell research offers great promise for curing deadly diseases; it does not create people.
It is important to note that cloning genes may be useful for therapy and may allow us to develop new drugs, solve crimes, and predict later onset disease with the hope of early intervention.
Stem cells may provide new treatments and perhaps cures for the at least 50 million Americans suffering from brain diseases or disorders. The ABC recommends that policymakers continue to support the use of all stem cell types in research and looks forward to working with the NIH and Congress to ensure that all opportunities in this field can be fully pursued within a sound ethical framework.
Updated by the American Brain Coalition Advocacy Committee March 2019.