Black Activists Hail Stem Cell Breakthrough
Project 21 Members Hopeful Discovery Will Forgo Political Desire to
Sacrifice Human Life
For Release: January 11, 2007
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11
With the announcement that researchers have found that stem cells obtained
from a mother's amniotic fluid appear to have similar properties and
exhibit the same healing potential as stem cells harvested from human
embryos, members of the black leadership network Project 21 are hopeful that
politicians considering legislation that encourages the destruction of human
embryos will allow more research on this new finding to be conducted before
striking down current rules that respect human life.
"Amniotic stem cells show all the promises of stem cell research without any
of the ethical issues," notes Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli. "Not only do
amniotic cells seem to have the same potential of embryonic stem cells, but
they may be superior in many ways. This is great news."
Researchers at Harvard University Medical School and the Wake Forest
University School of Medicine reported in the scientific journal Nature
Biotechnology that stem cells found in a pregnant mother's amniotic fluid
can be harmlessly extracted and have been used to create muscle, bone, fat,
blood vessel, nerve and liver cells in a laboratory setting. Dr. Anthony
Atala of Wake Forest, the senior researcher on the project, said the
amniotic fluid is a "plentiful source" of stem cells that are "capable of
self-renewal" and could produce a "broad range of cells that may be valuable
for therapy." They are also thought to be less likely to form into
cancerous tumors than embryonic stem cells.
While stem cells were previously known to be present in adults, research
involving stem cells harvested from human embryos is the cause of much
controversy. In 2001, President George W. Bush set a policy restricting
federal research money to renewable embryonic stem cell lines already in
existence at the time. Congress is now considering the "Stem Cell Research
Enhancement Act" (H.R. 3), which would allow federal funding of new
embryonic stem cell lines created from embryos considered to be left over
from fertility treatments. A bill similar to H.R. 3 was vetoed by President
Bush in 2006.
"Scientists had the wherewithal to look behind door number 2," said Project 21 member Djana Milton. "What they found was a lofty prize. Let us hope that Congress is sensible enough to alter course in the face of new and compelling information and follow suit."
Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie added: "The results from these two prominent institutions definitively proves that there are successful alternatives for the farming of stem cells. This research proves that there are alternatives to breeding human embryos for the express purpose of murdering them, while hoping that cells can be harvested as a cure to certain genetic abnormalities and diseases."
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.
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