Boxer Urges Bush to Expand Federal Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research
California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) has sent a letter to President Bush urging him to "loosen" his restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Bush has stated that he will allow federal funding for research conducted on an estimated 60 embryonic stem cell lines already in existence, but will not allow funding for research that would cause further destruction of embryos. Boxer, however, said that Bush should allow funding for research on additional embryonic stem cell lines. Boxer said that she has spoken about the issue with Dr. Roger Pedersen, a University of California-San Francisco researcher who has said he is moving to England to pursue embryonic stem cell research. Boxer stated that she learned from Pedersen that the existing embryonic stem cell lines have been nourished with mouse cells and that some cell lines were "exposed" to extracts from cow's blood. Pedersen told Boxer that if implanted into humans, the stem cells in these lines could possibly be rejected or "cause other complications" (Epstein, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/24).
In addition, the Washington Post reports that the use of mouse cells may prove to be a "substantial hurdl[e]" for stem cell research because of "stringent" FDA rules governing the use of animal products in humans (Gillis/Connolly, Washington Post, 8/24). Boxer wrote in the letter, "It is essential that more stem cell lines be derived without using animal products," adding, "The small number of stem cell lines available under the president's directive do not represent the diversity of the population and may not be sufficient to prevent rejection in patients." Boxer also voiced concerns that "other top scientists" may choose to follow Pedersen's example and leave the United States to pursue research in other nations. However, she "conceded" in an interview yesterday that Bush will likely veto any legislation passed by Congress to expand funding for embryonic stem cell research. "Unless a miracle happens, we're stuck with the president's decision on federal funding," she said (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.