BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT
23 July, 2005: A Bill proposing to expand federal financing for human embryonic stem cell research, is mired in a procedural delay in the US Senate.
The Bill, backed by Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, would permit federal financing for research on stem cell colonies, or lines, derived from embryos that are in frozen storage at fertility clinics.
Currently, federal financing is limited to studies of those embryonic stem cell lines already in existence on Aug. 9, 2001, when President Bush issued an executive order allowing the government to spend taxpayers' money on the research.
Though the Bill enjoys considerable support from the Republicans, it has been vehemently opposed by a group trying to delay its passage.
Human embryonic stem cells have receiving a lot of attention these days because scientists consider them to be the building blocks of the new field of regenerative medicine. Medical researchers also think the embryonic stem cells hold hope for treating a variety of degenerative including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes.
But the studies draw intense moral objections from religious conservatives and opponents of abortion because they fear that human embryos are destroyed by the research.
So, the opponents of the Bill propose many alternatives. Among them is a bill that would promote research into unproven methods of obtaining stem cells without destroying human embryos, and another that would allow research on some frozen embryos, but only those in storage at the present time.