Contact: Senator Iris Estabrook
CONCORD, NH - The Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony today on SCR 6, a resolution urging Congress to take legislative action regarding embryonic stem cell research, sponsored by Senator Iris Estabrook, (D, District 21).CONCORD, NH - The Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony today on SCR 6, a resolution urging Congress to take legislative action regarding embryonic stem cell research, sponsored by Senator Iris Estabrook, (D, District 21).
Federal HR 810 and S 471 would enable federal funding of embryonic stem cell research under the conditions that it use freely donated embryos otherwise destined to be discarded from in vitro fertilization treatment.
“This resolution is not about abortion or about creating embryos for the purposes of research,” said Sen. Estabrook. “It is about embryos that would otherwise be thrown away, approximately 100,000 per year, following the end of fertility treatments.”
Embryonic stem cells are derived during the Blastocyst period of development. Once derived, depending on the presence or absence of particular biochemical signals, the extracted cells have the potential to develop into specialized cells such as muscle, blood or brain. Beta cells can develop to produce insulin for diabetics and neurons can produce dopamine to treat Parkinson’s disease. Unlike ‘adult’ stem cells, embryonic stem cells can differentiate into almost any type of cell.
Mimi Silverman, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation advocate , testified that over 100 million Americans who suffer from diabetes, Parkinson's, ALS, spinal cord injuries, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's and many other serious illnesses could potentially be treated or cured through this promising research.
“Why discard fresh stem cell lines when they could be used for research, under the strict ethical supervision of NIH, in order to save lives?” Silverman said.
Jane Babin, an ALS patient, asked the committee to send Washington a clear message that New Hampshire supports embryonic stem cell research.
“Stem cell research offers promise for future treatments of many incurable diseases,” said Babin. “For many of us suffering from these debilitating diseases, hope keeps us going. Please renew our hope by passing SCR 6.”
The Committee also heard from Laura Clark, a 22 year-old living with a spinal cord injury. “I support embryonic stem cell research not because I want to take lives, but because I want to restore the lives of those with debilitating diseases and injuries,” she said.
Current federal policy on federal support for embryonic stem cell research is to limit funded research to the 22 cell lines developed before August, 2001. In the ensuing years these 22 lines have become contaminated. New methods have been developed to keep new lines healthier, one of the results of the research that has continued under private funding, although to a much smaller extent than would be possible with federal support.
“The prospect of stem cell research moving forward without US federal support also has some serious consequences in the area where science and economics intersect,” said Sen. Estabrook. “There is much more research needed before effective human therapies are available. On a global scale, the prospect of this realm of science moving forward without the benefit of American scientists’ expertise would be a loss to our country and the world.”
This bill is sponsored by Sen. Estabrook, Sen. Hassan, Sen. Burling, Sen. Larsen, Sen. Fuller Clark, Rep. Hammond, Rep. Pilliod, Rep. Sokol, Rep. Buxton, and Rep. Wall and is supported by the New Hampshire Brain and Spinal Cord Advisory Council.
Senate Democratic Policy Director