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  Latest News  
  August 2, 2005  
Also appeared in print August 8, page 14


  Stem Cell Bill Gets Boost From Sen. Bill Frist
Senate Majority Leader breaks with White House on expanding embryonic stem cell research


The debate over the federal policy for embryonic stem cell research experienced a shake-up last week. In an unexpected move, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) threw his support behind legislation to expand the current stem cell policy, which strictly limits federal funding to research on 22 stem cell lines derived before Aug. 9, 2001.

Courtesy of Bill Frist
Frist announced his backing of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 810/S. 471) during a July 29 speech on the Senate floor. The legislation—which passed the House in May (C&EN, May 30, page 12)—would expand the current policy by allowing federal support of research on stem cell lines derived from excess embryos from in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures. President George W. Bush has repeatedly said that he would veto such a bill if it makes it to his desk.

Before the bill moves forward, however, Frist pointed to three “significant shortcomings” that must be addressed through a “thoughtful and thorough rewrite of the bill.” These shortcomings include a lack of a strong ethical and scientific oversight mechanism, an absence of safeguards against financial or other incentives between scientists and IVF clinics, and a specification as to who has the final say over when an embryo will be discarded as opposed to being implanted.

Frist’s support “is a significant and most welcome breakthrough,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who along with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has broken ranks with the President and spoken out in favor of increasing the number of stem cell lines available for research with federal funds.

With the Majority Leader’s support now in place, the Senate is expected to take up the legislation this fall.
  Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2005

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