FETUS FARMING PROHIBITION ACT OF 2006 -- (Senate - July 18, 2006)
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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I have listened to a lot of debate today, and I have heard a lot of statements. Let me just go through a few.
Cures are not around the corner; that is right. Embryonic stem cell groups are now starting to realize they have years upon years upon years to offer any hope of cure of any disease using embryonic stem cells.
Yesterday in the debate, I challenged those on the other side of this issue to deny the fact that the only way we will ever have a treatment will be that you will have to clone yourself to be able to get a treatment. Nobody has refuted that, and the reason they can't refute that is because that is the only way embryonic stem cells will ever be successfully used to treat a human condition. You will have to clone yourself. That raises all sorts of other ethical conditions.
The fact that cures are not around the corner with embryonic stem cells belies the fact that cures are here with adult stem cells, with cord blood stem cells, and it belies the fact that we are not recognizing the latest advance just available in the last 6 months, confirmed in Germany, of what is called germ cell pluripotent stem cells. They can make any type of cell, and it makes sense. What has been constant through the history of man that has survived? The ability to propagate and to repeat the species. And the unique thing about germ cell pluripotent stem cells is they come from both the testes and the ovaries of us, and we can capture from ourselves pluripotent stem cells that do all the things and have all the potential that an embryonic stem cell might have.
The real question before us is, If there was a way for us to establish this research and avoid any ethical questions, wouldn't we all want to go there? And what I am putting forward today is that way is here today. That way is here. The scientific community, in terms of their money-raising and fundraising and grant-seeking, hasn't caught up with it. But mark my words: The real research in the pluripotent stem cells, those that can do anything and regenerate themselves and also have the advantage of not creating teratomas or tumors, are going to be the germ cell pluripotent stem cells. It is important for us to look at it.
Another quote: It won't involve cloned embryos. The only way a stem cell therapy from an embryonic stem cell can work for you is in one of two ways: you either clone yourself, and you will still have some problems with rejection, or you will get from multiple, multiple lines a close match.
I wanted to ask the leader yesterday--his biggest problem as a heart-lung transplant surgeon is the availability of organs, No. 1, and rejection, No. 2. The wonderful thing about adult stem cells is there is no rejection because you are giving yourself your own cells. The same thing will be true of germ cell pluripotent stem cells. There will be no rejection because you are giving identical DNA to yourself. All the other treatments with embryonic stem cells will have rejection as a component of their treatment. So is it a wonder that we want to research the miracles of life and look at this? No. It is great research that should be going forward.
But it is not true that there is not embryonic stem cell research going on in this country outside of the Government and around the world. The question is, Are we going to use taxpayer money to do additional research?
The other question that I raised is, Where is the money up to now going? The people who are investing outside of Government grants, where is the money going in terms of research? It is not going into embryonic stem cell research. It is going into every other type of research where they can actually see treatments.
Senator Hatch talked about heart disease. We now know that if you have had an infarct and you get a bypass and you are injected with your own stem cells, a good portion of your scar goes away and the generation of new blood vessels around the heart is accelerated and accentuated to the degree of about 70 percent more than your body would naturally do, if you are injected with your own stem cells at the time you get your bypass. We are curing heart failure with adult stem cells today. We are curing new vessels in the heart.
There is recent research in the last 6 months where we are treating lung disease--pulmonary fibrosis. Charlie Norwood, a Congressman from Georgia, has had pulmonary fibrosis and has had a lung transplant. In 5 years, somebody with pulmonary fibrosis will be cured with their own stem cells--not with embryonic stem cells, with their own stem cells--and they won't have a problem with rejection. Yet Charlie has to take drugs to keep from rejecting the lung transplant that he has.
Over time, we will recognize the value of what is really happening today in terms of treatments. We don't want the false promise. There is no question some great things will come out of embryonic stem cells. I don't deny that. But if we could do it a different way, if we could do it in a way where we didn't approach the ethical question, almost everybody would agree, let's do that. What I am saying is that is coming today.
Other quotes: Researchers have been prohibited from doing research on embryos. That is not true. That is not true. There is research ongoing today, with $41 million of your money last year on embryos. We haven't prohibited the research. We have said it is going to be limited. This bill, H.R. 810, says: There is no limit. Whether you agree with it or not, your money is going to be used to go in this direction.
I have not approached the ethical issues on pro-life--I am pro-life, but I am not claiming that as a defense on this issue. I am claiming that the smart science will avoid it and look at where the benefits are. There is no question.
I wish to quote from Lord Winston, the most prominent fetal embryonic stem cell researcher in England: ``I view the current wave of optimism about embryonic stem cells with growing suspicion.''
He says we have overpromised. He is right. It is going to be decades before a response comes from embryonic stem cells. There is not one viable treatment with embryonic stem cells in an animal model today, let alone a human model. There are hundreds in animal models and there are 72 in humans. To me, this is an easy question which doesn't have anything to do with ethics. Put the money where the results are. The results are here. I will promise you, germ cell pluripotent stem cells will be the end-all for our ethical question. It is just a shame that the politics isn't up with the science.
With that, Mr. President, I yield back.