FOX47 NEWS - Obama To Overturn Stem Cell Funding Limits

Jeff Angileri
Mar 8, 2009, 5:21 PM

It is the moment some scientists have been waiting for -- Monday, President Barack Obama is expected to overturn an 8-year limit on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. These so-called master cells can turn into any type of cell in the body. Scientists believe their exploration and manipulation will lead to treatments for diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and spinal cord injuries.

Researchers say the limits slowed progress of discoveries.

The situation became so absurd, said Professor Ronald Kalil at the UW School of Medicine, That if you were working with these lines in a lab in which you had equipment that was funded by the federal government, you couldn't use that equipment to look at the cells. In some cases, people just picked up and they went off campus.

Because it destroys human embryos, stem cell research is controversial. But a new discovery, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), could side-step some of the opposition.

Experts say iPS cells can turn into any type of human tissue, and help scientists learn more about the human body and why people contract diseases.

A cell could be taken from your skin, my skin, turned back into a stem cell, turned into something you or I might need, and put back into us to solve a problem, said Kalil.

Plus, Kalil says, unlike organ transplants, there's little chance of rejection.

Your body is blind to them, they can go back into your body, and your body will treat them as part of the family, he said.

Depending on the success of researchers, experts say millions of federal dollars could be on the way for stem cell laboratories in Wisconsin.

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