Saturday, September 16, 2006

State House passes bills for adult stem cell research

9/13/2006, 6:15 p.m. ET

The Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state House passed bills Wednesday aimed at encouraging the creation of a network of stem cell banks for umbilical cords and adult stem cells donated by patients. But Democrats, while voting in favor of the bills, said they were frustrated the Republican-led Legislature hasn't passed bills that would foster embryonic stem cell research in Michigan. Rep. Andy Meisner, D-Ferndale, said the bills passed Wednesday are a "step in the right direction" for Michigan research. But he wants action on his package of bills that would allow more embryonic stem cell research, which he said holds "great promise that the current legislation before us does not address."

Several other states are focusing their research efforts on embryonic stem cell research. Meisner says Michigan's laws on embryonic stem cell research are among the most restrictive in the nation. Some Republicans have ethical concerns about embryonic stem cell research, which is opposed by groups such as the Michigan Catholic Conference and Right to Life of Michigan. Some within the GOP say there is still plenty of potential for medical breakthroughs related to multiple sclerosis, diabetes and Parkinson's disease through adult stem cell research. Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, a Republican from Kalamazoo, said the research holds the potential to "turn medical waste into miracles."

Four of the five cord bank bills passed the House unanimously. They next head to the Senate. The only one that sparked dissension Wednesday was a bill to fund the measure with $5 million from the 21st Century Jobs Fund recently established to generate more investment in life sciences and other high- tech businesses in Michigan. Some Democrats said they were concerned with the funding mechanism and the authority to use the money from that particular fund. The funding bill passed the House by a 74-32 vote. Other bills in the Republican-introduced package would require the state to promote the cord bank through educational materials and provide a tax credit for cash donations to nonprofit cord banks.
The stem cell bills are House Bills 6291-6295.
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