University of Michigan announces approval to begin accepting embryos for stem cell research
Researchers at the University of Michigan can begin receiving unused embryos after completing the final steps of approval - a move that could jump start clinical breakthroughs and stimulate the state's economy, the director of U-M’s A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute told the Detroit Economic Club today.
"I think this is the beginning of a new era for neurology," said Eva Feldman, also the U-M director of the neurology program. She was speaking to a few hundred people at Detroit’s Westin Book Cadillac Hotel.
The move also helped southeastern Michigan win the World Stem Cell Summit, which will lead to economic impact when the significant scientific conference is hosted next year, she said.
More than a year ago, Michigan voters approved Proposal 2, a measure allowing researchers within the state to derive their own embryonic stem cell lines for research.
Just last week, lab workers were told to begin preparing for the arrival of approved, donated embryos after all required approvals for work had finally been given.
But many attending the event today expressed concern about a hearing planned Wednesday in the Michigan Senate's health policy committee. That committee may extend regulation on the embryos scientists can to use to derive these lines.
If it succeeds, Alfred Taubman said at the meeting, opponents of Proposal 2 will have won their attempts to place "onerous and unnecessary regulations" on the research. "Michigan will once again be seen as a place that's unfriendly to science," Taubman said.
One of the attendees, Ann Arbor resident Kathleen Russell, said she was encouraged by the passage of Proposal 2, but has great concern about the Senate measure being considered.
Russell, the congressional coordinator for the Parkinson's Action Network and a founding member of the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research & Cures, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease when she was 39. She is now 51.
"Parkinson's is considered one of the two or three diseases that is believed to be helped by this research," Russell said. "In that I find a great deal of hope. It is clearly the new frontier of science It's my hope that not only would we find a cure for Parkinson's, but that it's a Michigander that discovers the cure."
Michigan voters already expressed their support for allowing stem cell researchers to derive their own stem cell lines from embryos to study, Russell said. And she said she disagrees with further attempts to bar the research in the state Senate.