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House perfects a bill to fund adult stem cell research

April 19, 2006
By: Leslie Yingling
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House perfected a bill Wednesday that would allocate money to to fund adult stem cell research.

"This will direct the Life Sciences Research Trust Fund board to actually direct funds toward umbilical cord blood research and adult stem cell research," said Rep. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, the bill's sponsor. "I think this is a good way for this body to show that we are encouraging this type of research in the state of Missouri."

A House summary of HB 1534 avoids the controversy inevitably sparked by embryonic stem cell research by emphasizing umbilical cord blood as a "non-embryonic, non-fetal" source of stem cells.

The legislation is backed by groups such as Missouri Right to Life and the Missouri Catholic Conference that have not supported embryonic stem cell research.

"It's important for the people's representatives to know that they do support ethical stem cell research," Lembke said.

Stem cells extracted from umbilical cord blood are younger and can divide longer than adult stem cells, and do not involve the destruction of human embryos. It is uncertain whether stem cells from umbilical cords have as much developmetal potential as embryonic stem cells, according to the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

An initiative to constitutionally protect embryonic stem cell research in Missouri will appear on the November ballot.