Wisconsin Stem Cell Now, Inc.: Group Critical of Vote Foreclosing Research

Contact:

Ed Fallone, President
(414) 412-5772
Wisconsin Stem Cell Now, Inc.
[email protected]

For Immediate Release:

Wisconsin Stem Cell Now, Inc. Urges Governor to Veto Bill

September 28, 2005. Wisconsin Stem Cell Now, Inc. reacted with disappointment to the expected passage of a bill in the State Senate that makes it a crime for scientists and doctors to engage in research involving patient-specific stem cells. “Every day, doctors engaged in groundbreaking stem cell research in Wisconsin are making progress towards unlocking the mysteries of diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s and a host of other diseases. The legislature should be supporting the search for cures, not placing roadblocks in the way,” said Ed Fallone, President of Wisconsin Stem Cell Now. He added, “We urge Governor Doyle to veto this bill, so that the thousand of Wisconsin residents afflicted with chronic diseases and their families can receive the benefits of this lifesaving research.”

The expected passage of AB 499 by the Senate, the so-called “Anti-Cloning Bill,” will make it a crime for anyone to engage in “human cloning” in Wisconsin. None of the groundbreaking stem cell research currently underway in Wisconsin – pioneered by Dr. James Thomson – involves cloning technology. Therefore, current research efforts do not appear to be seriously effected. However, the broad definition of “human cloning” contained in the law would seem to prevent doctors in Wisconsin from pursuing two important avenues of research in the future.

First, it would appear to criminalize “therapeutic cloning,” also known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (“SCNT”). SCNT is a laboratory procedure in which the nucleus of an unfertilized donor egg is replaced with the patient’s own DNA from a somatic cell – a cell from the patient’s skin, heart, or muscle. The unfertilized egg divides in a Petri dish to become a source of patient-specific stem cells in vitro, which can be coaxed into becoming the type of cells needed to cure the patient. SCNT is the only field of stem cell research that could eliminate immune system rejection because the cells to be transplanted into the patient contain the patient’s DNA.

Second, criminalizing SCNT would not only slow progress towards the successful creation of cells for transplantation, it would also prevent doctors from using the SCNT procedure to observe how diseases develop in the first place. By using the DNA of a patient with a disease, and by carefully studying the way in which the disease first develops in stem cells created using SCNT, doctors might be one step closer to learning how to prevent the disease in the general population.
Wisconsin Stem Cell Now, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that seeks to educate the public and lawmakers concerning the benefits of stem cell research, and that advocates continued support of this life-saving research.