Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research Releases New White Paper, 'Catalyst...

Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:00am EST

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Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research Releases New White Paper,
'Catalyst for Cures: Embryonic Stem Cell Research'

- National Poll Reveals Three-Quarters of Americans Want President-Elect Obama
to Deliver on Campaign Commitment to Lift Restrictions on Embryonic Stem Cell
Research - 

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Coalition for the
Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) today released a white paper, Catalyst
For Cures: Embryonic Stem Cell Research, which outlines the views of nine of
the nation's leading scientists on the promises and challenges of embryonic
stem cell research. In support for the scientific community's call for
reversal of the current restrictions on funding for stem cell research, the
group also released the results of a national poll conducted this month for
CAMR by Opinion Research Corporation indicating that nearly three-quarters
(73%) of Americans believe that President-elect Obama should keep his pledge
to lift existing federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.  

Marking the 10th anniversary of the announcements by James Thomson and John
Gearhart that each had successfully grown the first human pluripotent stem
cell lines in culture, the White Paper proclaims that "with the knowledge
gained in the past decade, stem cell research is more promising than ever."   

Despite limited funding, scientists have made great strides in using these
primary cells to understand what goes wrong in disease and have begun devising
promising new therapies for devastating conditions, such as heart disease,
spinal cord injury, and diabetes. Conversations with some of the nation's top
stem cell researchers -- in academia and industry -- make clear that, with
removal of limits on Federal funding, embryonic stem cell research will
fulfill its promise in broader ways than originally anticipated. 

"It's time for the federal government to support the broad range of stem cell
research so that the greatest public benefit can be achieved on the shoulders
of the last 10 years' accomplishments," said Amy Comstock Rick, president of
CAMR.  "We are hopeful that President-elect Obama will deliver on his campaign
commitment to lift the current restrictions, and allow scientists to deliver
on the promise of embryonic stem cell research."

Catalyst for Cures: Embryonic Stem Cell Research shares experts' viewpoints
and assessments of embryonic stem cell research to date, and takes a bold look
at where this research might lead in the coming years.  Some highlights
include:

"I'd be very surprised if, during the course of my scientific career, the next
20 years, we don't have much better therapies for Parkinson's disease, based
on the fact that we have these hESC-derived tissues in culture," says James
Thomson.

Many scientists have been studying adult stem cells and learning more about
their utility and their limitations. So far, adult stem cells have only
successfully been used in a very narrow area: blood system reconstitution,
including bone marrow transplant, umbilical cord transplant, and peripheral
blood transplant. "The argument that there are 60 to 70 diseases that can be
cured with adult stem cells was never credible," says Sean Morrison,
University of Michigan.

Biotech firms are revving up, focused on toxicity screening and drug
development. A few are aggressively pursuing hES cell-based therapies. Big
Pharma is also beginning to invest in stem cells. "Embryonic stem cells are a
source of cells for predictive toxicology and drug discovery," says consultant
and former Novocell executive Melissa Carpenter. 


The Paper concludes that, "scientists see great promise in efforts to improve
therapies for diabetes, Parkinson's disease, macular degeneration, cancer,
spinal cord injuries, and heart disease.  The time for removal of
restrictions, expanded support, and implementation of relevant oversight
guidelines is now."

The full text of Catalyst for Cures: Embryonic Stem Cell Research is available
on the CAMR web site at www.camradvocacy.com.

The following researchers and thought leaders contributed to this white paper:

Melissa K. Carpenter, Ph.D., former Vice President of Research and Development
at Novocell Inc., and Director of Stem Cell Biology at Geron Corporation;
George Daley, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School; Kevin C. Eggan, Ph.D.,
Principal Faculty, Harvard Stem Cell Institute; John P. Gearhart, M.D.,
Director, Institute for Regenerative Medicine at University of Pennsylvania;
Ole Isacson, Dr.Med.Sci., Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School; Hans
Keirstead, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Anatomy and Neurobiology at University
of California, Irvine; Douglas A. Melton, Ph.D., Co-director of the Harvard
Stem Cell Institute; Sean J. Morrison, Ph.D., Director, University of Michigan
Center for Stem Cell Biology; and James Thomson, V.M.D., Ph.D., Director of
Regenerative Biology at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public
Health.

About the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research
The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) -- the leading
pro-cures coalition -- is comprised of nationally recognized patient
organizations, universities, scientific societies, foundations, and
individuals with life-threatening illnesses and disorders, advocating for the
advancement of breakthrough research and technologies in regenerative medicine
-- including stem cell research -- to cure disease and alleviate suffering. 
For more information on CAMR, visit www.camradvocacy.org.


SOURCE  Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research

Kevin Casey, +1-617-496-5576, kevin_casey@harvard.edu; or Carol Blymire,
+1-301-332-8090, carol@carolblymire.com, for CAMR
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