June 2005: This landmark letter was signed by 126 stem cell scientists at the International Society for Stem Cell Research meeting in San Francisco.
Dear Senator Hatch,
We are a group of U.S. and international scientists
who thank you for your leadership in supporting stem cell research. Stem
Cell therapy holds the
promise of cures
for diseases which afflict up to half of all Americans: spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s,
multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, heart failure and diabetes, to name a
few. What is new is the ability to produce billions of pluripotent stem cells
in the laboratory, and direct them to replace damaged cells in tissues that do
not have their own supply, such as the spinal cord, the brain and the heart.
Adult stem cells from umbilical cord blood or bone marrow cannot do the job
they are not pluripotent, they do not develop into all the cell types, such
as spinal cord and brain. Scientists and physicians have sought solutions to
problem for decades without success.
Because of genetic variations among humans, many more lines of embryonic
stem cells are needed to solve the obstacles to stem cell therapy. Human eggs
the capacity to give rise to three types of pluripotent stem cells, all essential
to developing stem cell therapies; (1) embryonic stem cells, (2) nuclear
transplant stem cells, and (3) parthenote stem cells.
Nuclear transplant stem cells are necessary for multiple reasons: (1) to
serve as therapeutic reagents genetically identical to the patient in need,
provide a source of cells as laboratory models for diseases, and (3) to
reveal the mechanisms by which human eggs can reprogram genes. Importantly,
research could lead to new approaches for reprogramming adult stem cells,
pluripotent, and potentially eliminating the need for human eggs. Legislation
should include stipulations that nuclear transplanted eggs not be transferred
to a uterus, to guarantee that embryonic development would not result from
nuclear transplant stem cells.
Parthenote stem cells arise from unfertilized eggs activated with their
own genetic information. Less understood at this time, parthenote stem
may prove to
be as versatile as embryonic stem cells, and may be therapeutically valuable
for the egg donor, but parthenote stem cells cannot replace the role
of nuclear transplant stem cells, describe above.
The U.S. should be leading pluripotent stem cell research and medicine,
and setting ethical standards not only for the research as it goes
distribution of healthcare advances as they develop. Please pass legislation
that supports all forms of pluripotent stem cell research: embryonic
stem cells, nuclear transplant stem cells and parthenote stem cells.
incurable diseases all over the world deserve our best efforts now.
Bedford Stem Cell
Research Foundation Headquarters
PO Box 1028
Bedford, MA 01730
260 Elm Street, Suite 106
Somerville, MA 02144