NIH Study Cites Promise of Embryonic Research

The study emphasized that much more research needs to be done before scientists understand the full potential of the young cells.

“To date it is impossible to predict which stem cells — those derived from the embryo, the fetus, or the adult — or which methods for manipulating the cells, will best meet the needs of basic research and clinical applications,” the study reads in part. “The answers clearly lie in conducting more research.”

The report comes as President Bush weighs future federal funding of stem cell research.

Some have voiced their opposition to the research, arguing the destruction of embryos, even to save a life, is morally wrong.

The study does not address the moral or funding issues.

Stem cells are extracted from several-day-old embryos, thus destroying them. They are usually created during fertility treatments and then thrown out or frozen.

President Clinton instituted a policy in 1999 saying that federal funds could be used to study the stem cells, but not to create the embryos. President Bush has declared a temporary ban on all research until he announces a new policy.

Hearing before the Senate

Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee today became another Republican to announce his support for federal funding of the practice. As the only physician in the Senate and a close ally of President Bush, his testimony was seen as key.

Frist said that, in addition to embryonic stem cell research, he hoped to increase the amount of money given to study adult stem cells. The research on adult stem cells has proven to be less controversial, but perhaps less promising that it’s younger counterpart.

“Both embryonic stem cell research as well as adult stem cell research should be federally funded within a very carefully regulated, fully transparent framework that ensures the highest respect for the moral significance of the human embryo,” he said, as part of a compromise.