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JDF Washington Report
Vol. II, No. 2, January 21, 1999

Clinton Administration Allows Stem Cell Research to Move Forward

As we reported last week, Doug Melton, Ph.D, Chairman of the Molecular and Cell Biology Department at Harvard University, represented the JDF during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the merits of stem cell research on January 12. As well as having a professional interest in furthering diabetes research, he has a personal interest because he is the father of a seven-year- old with Type 1 diabetes.

We are pleased to announce that on January 20, the Clinton Administration stated that it would allow Federal funding for human stem cell research. NIH received a legal opinion from the General Counsel at the Department of Health and Human Services stating that research on stem cells does not violate the existing ban on federal support for research using human embryos. Guidelines will be developed to determine the scope of research in this area that will be eligible for federal support.

Scientists believe human stem cells could one day be stimulated to develop into pancreatic islet cells to replace those that have been destroyed in people with Type 1 diabetes. Scientists already have been able to "direct" the cells in laboratory cultures into becoming nerve cells and heart tissue, and they have the potential to develop into any tissue or organ in the body. These cells could be engineered in such a way that people who receive them might not need highly toxic immunosuppressive drugs, currently a major obstacle to successful islet cell transplantation.

Juvenile Diabetes Foundation - Government Relations
1400 I Street, NW #500
Washington, DC 20005
1-800-JDF-1VOTE ex. 5 (800-533-1868)

Posted 31 January 1999

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