STEM CELL RESEARCH ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - April 10, 2007)
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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I rise to start the discussion on this side regarding stem cells, regarding the major hope and promise of stem cells, stem cell research and adult stem cells, cord blood, amniotic fluid.
I wish to start off with a story of a patient, David Foege. I have a picture of him here. David Foege lives in Florida and has suffered from end-stage heart disease. He experienced shortness of breath, tiredness, and an inability to concentrate and function in a normal fashion. Over 2 years ago, his cardiologist indicated that he should go to hospice, saying he had no other options. ``I would be provided plenty of morphine to ease my way into a `transitional state,' '' was the statement of his treating physician. Hospice does provide great service, but David learned about adult stem cell treatments through a company called TheraVitae.
When I saw David last year, he had just returned from his first stem cell treatment. He has just returned from his second one a matter of weeks ago--just this week, as a matter of fact. We have a progress report from him about this amazing work which has taken place, this therapy which has occurred with adult stem cells. Listen to David's letter. It is really impressive and very interesting.
I am one of 7 people in the world who have experienced 2 stem cell therapies!
Susan and I have just returned from Bangkok, Thailand, after 45 days of adult stem cell cardiac treatment and rehabilitation. [One has to wonder why he is in Thailand for that.] The absolute cutting edge of technology, the utilization of my own stem cells reinjected into my heart, allowed the reshaping and a re-functioning of my heart from a life-threatening situation to a nearly normal heart function today.
Following my stem cell [treatment] last year I went from a life expectancy of one day to 90 days to at least one year. The second stem cell treatment has jumpstarted me into the range of normal function. I reasonably can expect a normal life expectancy, which is approximately 10 to 15 more years. I can't `` tell you how great it is to the back in the greatest country in the world, the United States of America. The weather is fabulous here in Florida, and it is wonderful to sleep on my own soft bed.
I am in awe of the Creator, who amazingly engineered us to have our own warranty in our body's toolbox with us at all times ..... our own stem cells! It does not check our politics, race, religion, or sex.
Some of the diseases in addition to heart diseases which can be treated in 2008-2009 are the following [projected into the future]:
Blindness macular degeneration, diabetes, stroke and Parkinson's disease, paralysis of any part of the body including back and/or legs, renal failure.
Being one of the world's longest living renal transplant recipients of 23 years, I can't tell you how thrilled I am for others that they may not have to endure the hellish torture of a renal failure. This reasonable treatment is in the immediate future.
It is an absolutely wonderful time to be alive. The only letters, or designation, I would like to have behind my name is David Foege, Alive!
TheraVitae has the technology to soup-up our cells and differentiate them for maximum effectiveness. I would support embryonic cells, but they have a 100% certain side effect of growing cancer tumors. Our own adult stem cells do not.
Best wishes and great health be with you.
This opens a revolutionary door of opportunity to improve the quality of life like it has for me and cut the spiraling cost of health care in the USA.
On my way to Costco without cane or wheel chair for 30 minute shopping walk, I remain
David Foege, Ph.D. And alive
That is a good way to start this discussion of these miraculous stem cells. They are beautiful, and they are working in at least 72 different human maladies. David Foege had treatments using two. The problem is, he has had to go to Bangkok, Thailand, for both of them instead of the United States.
Adult stem cell therapy has no ethical problems, no ethical questions. They are his own stem cells. Yet he has had to travel to Bangkok because we don't seem to have enough research funding to be able to support this sort of research into areas that are giving cures--treatments, I want to say, emphasize treatments, not cures--to people to give them an enthusiastic life, to give them a chance to live and to sign off ``David Foege, Ph.D., and alive.''
We have now found these amazing stem cells in many places, not only in cord blood. Thanks to my colleague from Iowa, who worked with me and many others, we established a cord blood bank, and we are now--I just checked these numbers before we came over here--at the end of 2006, there have been 10,000 cord blood transplants to unrelated donors. I got those from the New York Blood Center, which was responsible for 2,500 of these units. That is 10,000 people probably alive who wouldn't be--maybe some would, in other ways or shapes. But still it is taking place.
We now need to bank amniotic fluid. We just found in recent research--I want to show this chart as well. Some of my colleagues may have missed this. This came out in JAMA, February 28, 2007: ``Stem cells obtained from amniotic fluid.'' This is the fluid, of course, surrounding the child in the womb.
Amniotic fluid-derived stem cells--AFS cells--can be coaxed to become muscle, bone, fat, blood, vessel, nerve and live cells.
AFS, stem cells, might be capable of repairing damaged tissues resulting from conditions such as spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and stroke.
I hope one of the efforts we can take on banking, that I could possibly do with my colleague from Iowa and many others, is banking amniotic fluid. This has been traditionally thrown away. It may hold the promise of incredible cures. It is a great source of stem cells. They are very malleable, the pluripotent stem cells that are taking place that are in this as well. That may be another one on which we can join together. There is much news to celebrate on the stem cell front, this being one.
In the placenta, I believe, they are finding a rich source of these pluripotent malleable stem cells as well--here another throwaway, if you will. That is an area we are going to be able to find and probably use more and more into the future for these very malleable, pluripotent stem cells from which we can create--not create but use for additional amazing cures.
I want to recognize the work of my colleagues who are on the other side of this debate, Senator Specter from Pennsylvania, Senator Harkin from Iowa--many others who have pushed for a long time in these areas, and much good has happened. In the cord blood banking, that has gone very well. In the adult stem cell research, that work has gone fabulously, as I just read in this opening story of a gentleman just back from Bangkok--although he wished his treatments were taking place in the United States rather than in Thailand. Much good has happened.
We have two major barriers. The first one I believe to be an insurmountable barrier, that first one being, What is the human embryo? If it is a person, as we have discussed many times, then it is entitled to human dignity and should be treated in a dignified fashion and not researched or taxpayer dollars used to research and destroy it. If it is property, it can be done with as its master chooses.
We have discussed and debated this many times. Obviously, here the effort would be to treat the youngest of human beings as property to be researched on, to be destroyed with the use of Federal taxpayer dollars. Yet, if you follow that debate on forward, at what point in time does a human embryo become a person? We know that if you allow it to grow, at some point in time, under everybody's definition, it becomes a person entitled to protection and human dignity. Yet we are saying here: No, at the earliest phases, we are going to treat it as property, and with Federal taxpayer dollars we are going to pay to destroy it and to research on it.
That is the obstacle which cannot be overcome because we believe in human dignity. We believe as a society in human dignity. So our debate, which we have had multiple sets of times, sets of different debates on this here, continues today.
The central question will be, Will we sanction the destruction of nascent human life with Federal taxpayer dollars? That is the central issue. Will we divert taxpayer dollars from adult stem cell research, which is working? See the case of Dr. David Foege--and send these dollars to fund speculative research that likely will never produce any patient treatments? That is the second question with it.
I mentioned the first to be an insurmountable one. I think the second is one of wisdom: Should we be funding something that is working or should we be speculating on something that is not and is producing, indeed, tumors? I will back that up with a number of research papers.
These are the two central questions. These are the two questions we will be debating throughout this period of time.
I doubt there is much surprise left on the vote, on how the votes will take place. It is an important debate. It does frame much of what we move forward with in this country and in places around the world. But these are the two central questions: Will we sanction the destruction of nascent human life with Federal taxpayer dollars? Will we divert taxpayer dollars from adult stem cell research which is working and send these dollars to fund speculative research that likely will never produce any patient treatments?
Central to this debate is the issue of how we treat our fellow man. We would all agree, I hope, that individuals should be treated with respect. We would agree that we should avoid prejudices. We would agree that each individual has an inalienable right to life--my colleagues, my colleague from Iowa, myself, the Presiding Officer, those around, those watching would all agree that we each have an inalienable right to life--to live. We would all hold this for the newborn through the eldest members of our society. But when does that life begin? The question that has vexed this body for some period of time. Does it begin at birth? Does it begin before birth? When? Biology tells us that life begins much earlier than birth. Here I want to read from the ``Human Embryology'' textbook. It says this:
Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed.
Such definitions are helpful in clarifying that human life does begin at the embryonic phase. Indeed, myself, my colleague from Iowa, the Presiding Officer all began at that embryonic phase, whether the embryo comes the old-fashioned way, via IVF or a product of various scientific methods such as SCNT human cloning.
With the scientific fact in hand, we evaluate the facts in light of our ethical framework. For instance, we know that the human embryo is a human life. Then the question is, How should we treat it? Human life has immeasurable value, from the youngest to the oldest. Human beings are ends in themselves. It is wrong to use any human as a means to an end. Any time throughout human history when we have done otherwise we have regretted it.
Our value as people is intrinsic. I would say here, I am pro-life, whole life. I believe that all life is sacred, it is beautiful, it is unique, it is the child of a loving God, from beginning to end, it is true here, it is true in the womb, it is true of a child in Darfur, it is true of a lady in poverty, it simply is true.
Yes, we want to treat people and help people who have medical conditions. But we must not trample upon any human to achieve such an end. This is because human beings are distinct and unique amongst all creation. I would note that Ronald Reagan had, I thought, a very folksy way of defining whether this was human life and whether it should be protected. In his 1983 essay on ``Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation,'' he put this in a very commonsense way.
Anyone who doesn't feel sure whether we are talking about a second human life, should clearly give life the benefit of the doubt. If you don't know whether a body is alive or dead, you would never bury it.
I think this consideration itself should be enough for all of us to insist on protecting the unborn. Very commonsense, folksy way, but he does hit the point. Will we do what is ethical with respect to our fellow man? This is one of the central questions of this debate.
Now during this debate some will argue that we should proceed with ethical embryonic stem cell research. Here I would distinguish between embryonic and some of the unquestionably ethical alternatives which we can talk about. With respect to embryonic stem cell research, though, as embodied in the guidelines of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, S. 5, how is it possible to ethically do something that is completely unethical--destroy another human life, innocent human life--for research purposes?
Arguments that the bill provides ethical guidelines, though well intended, I believed are misplaced. The ethics of S. 5 have nothing to do with protecting innocent life from destruction. They will fund, with taxpayer dollars, the destruction of innocent human life.
The ethics of S. 5 have to do with the process of how you donate young human embryos for destruction. Mr. President, we have had this debate before. We have had it on the floor on this issue, and we have had it before regarding other issues. We had it with the fetal tissue research from abortions.
I wish to take the body back to 1991, the Coalition for Research Freedom, in a letter signed by many prominent patient advocacy groups who are advocating embryonic stem cell research today, were advocating fetal tissue research in 1991. They wrote this: Fetal tissue transplantation research is widely recognized as one of the most promising research avenues for such disease and disabilities as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, Huntington's, leukemia, epilepsy, spinal cord injuries, and many other chronic health conditions.
Doesn't that sound familiar, Congress responding to the emotional outcry with legislation to provide for funding for unethical research, research that can only take place with the trampling of the rights of a fellow human.
That was 1991. Those were the promises. That was the move forward by this body. That is what was pushed on forward. We know what happened. It was on the front page of the New York Times in 2001. The news story began like this:
A carefully controlled study that tried to treat Parkinson's disease by implanting cells from aborted fetuses into patient's brains not only failed to show an overall benefit but also revealed a disastrous side effect, scientists report.
In about 15 percent of patients, the cells apparently grew too well, churning out so much of a chemical that controls movement that the patients writhed and jerked uncontrollably.
The story continues:
``They chew constantly, their fingers go up and down, their wrists flex and distend,'' Dr. Greene said. And the patients writhe and twist, jerk their heads, fling their arms about.
``It was tragic, catastrophic,'' he said. ``It's a real nightmare. And we cannot selectively turn it off.''
One man was so badly affected that--
We will see what happens. Hopefully, the sound will come back in a little while.
One man was so badly affected that he could no longer eat and had to use a feeding tube, Dr. Greene said. In another, the condition came and went unpredictably throughout the day, and when it occurred, the man's speech was unintelligible.
For now, Dr. Greene said, his position is clear: ``No more fetal transplants. We are absolutely and adamantly convinced that this should be considered for research only.'' The pattern repeats itself. It is a double tragedy. First, the young human life is destroyed. Second, it is patients who will likely be harmed. There are no embryonic human treatments or applications, despite 25 years of embryonic work in animal models and a decade of work with human embryonic stem cells.
I repeat that. Twenty-five years of embryonic work in animal models, there are no human treatments, and a decade of work with human embryonic stem cells, no treatments.
But what we have learned about embryonic stem cells is that these cells are very good at forming tumors, in particular. The literature abounds with such stories. One example is in an area published last year in Stem Cells. You read the article and find: The expression of the insulin gene could be demonstrated only when the cell is differentiated in vivo into teratomas, those are tumors.
This is one example and there are many others. I wish to point this out because this was the same result we saw taking place with fetal tissue research, was that tumors were formed. That is what took place.
I wish to go to several of the articles now that are published articles on the formation of tumors by embryonic stem cells. Note this one on the insulin gene, this was in the publication Stem Cells, published August 2 of 2006--have another one published April 6, 2006.
They noted there as well the potential for teratoma development in embryonic stem cell lines, even after prolonged differentiation. I have a series of articles. Here is one in Neurochem, 2006, June. They were noting there frequent tumor-related deaths in transplanted animals taking place in that one.
Here is one in Stem Cells in June of 2006. There they note that rats grafted with human embryonic stem cells predifferentiated in vitro for 16 days developed severe teratomas--again, tumors.
The literature is full of that work. These are developing tumors. We note in Stem Cells publication, June of 2006, more than 70 percent of mice that received embryonic stem cells neural precursor cells developed teratomas, developed tumors.
I have a series of those publications, all noting the stem cell therapy in animals produced tumors. Strange. That is what we found took place in fetal tissue research when we were dealing with an older set of cells that had been developed, and now when we back it up to a younger set of stem cells or cells we are using, we are seeing this same feature, forming teratomas or tumors throughout each of the research animals and in some cases in almost every circumstance.
That is what we found then, and we are finding the same thing now, consistent on the research. I have, for those who are interested, if any of the offices are interested, 17 different examples of the formation of teratomas
by embryonic stem cell work in lab animals.
Let's not go down this road of unethical, speculative research. I am sure the research is interesting to some. But the Government needs to pursue what is best for Americans suffering from diseases and injuries. That is what our standard should be in this.
We have an enormous ethical hurdle of killing young human life for this research purpose, and we have an area that needs more funding in the adult stem cell, cord blood, amniotic fluid, and that money is being diverted to other places.
Now let us move from that ethical to the practical question: Should we put millions or billions of dollars into interesting, speculative research on tumor-forming embryonic stem cells or should we put our money where we are already getting strong results with adult stem cell work, cord blood, amniotic fluid, other areas where there is no ethical problem?
Adult stem cells have no ethical strings attached. You can get them from an adult patient without causing the patient harm, you can harvest them from the rich cord blood, and as noted in the Journal of the American Medical Association on March 7 of this year, they can be obtained from amniotic fluid, which I previously cited, without causing harm to the unborn child.
Defying the naysayers, who said this could not work or would not work, there are so many confirmed adult pluripotent stem cells, pluripotent cells, that means they can form a number of different types of cell types, previously thought to only exist in the embryos, can turn into virtually any cell in the body.
And here I want to show--first, let us go to the chart of the areas that were having treatments taking place by adult stem cell therapy. I wish to hold this up. I do not think this is a complete set of areas but 72 current human--this is in humans--clinical applications using adult stem cells: blood conditions, autoimmune, bladder disease, cancer, cardiovascular, liver disease, ocular, wounds and injuries, metabolic disorders.
You can see the list of 72 different areas that are being treated with adult stem cells in humans, in human trials. I wish to hold up to my colleagues--I will be happy to provide this to any offices that would like it--it is about an inch-thick binder of ``New Reasons for Hope.'' These are recent developments published since Congress's stem cell debate and vote of 2006 and the adult stem cell research and other alternative to embryonic stem cell work and research.
This is from June 2006 to March of 2007. Here are the number of additional areas that we have gotten successful work taking place in each of those. I wish to show this as a folder--I have shown it before to my colleagues--if anybody would like to see this. These are the recent advances in adult stem cell research and other alternatives. This is a binder about 4 inches thick, full of the front pages, just the first pages of the research in these fields of what is taking place. There needs to be more taking place in this field to get more of the treatments for more people like David Foege.
If people want to go to the Web site of ClinicalTrials.gov and pull up the latest number of trials and studies of places that are recruiting patients or are filled and no longer recruiting, it pulls up 1,422 studies currently ongoing. This is the first of 50 pages from ClinicalTrials.gov of the various areas and uses of adult stem cells that are going on right now.
Let's look at the money chart. Presently, there is no prohibition against anybody developing new embryonic stem cell lines legally. If a private group or a state wants to develop a new embryonic stem cell line, they can. The limitation is on the use of Federal taxpayer dollars in research areas on newly established embryonic stem cell lines. But if a private group wants to develop an embryonic stem cell line or a State, they can do that now.
Let's look at the funding that has gone into embryonic stem cell research, both human and nonhuman. In fiscal year 2006, the last year that we have full data for, human embryonic stem cell research, $37.8 million, nonhuman embryonic stem cell research, $110.4 million; for 2002 to 2006, human embryonic stem cell research, $132.1 million, nonhuman embryonic stem cell research, $481.7 million; for a total of $613.9 million in embryonic stem cell research. We are putting a lot of money into embryonic stem cell research. Still the scoreboard of where we are getting humans treated after $613.9 million, stem cell research human applications, adult, we have two treatment areas with binders full of information, with 1,422 study trials. We have zero on the embryonic, after 25 years of knowing about this, 10 years of knowing about it in humans, and after $613 million in funding.
After some period of time, should we not think, wouldn't it be better if Dr. David Foege were being treated in the United States instead of Thailand and we had more of that work that is getting him treated taking place here rather than in other places around the world? Wouldn't it be better to take the $613 million that could yield more treatments, if that is what we are after, wouldn't it be better to take that $613 million and say: Let's put more in adult stem cell research where it is yielding results? Doesn't that make sense? Isn't that the right thing to do?
Where we have all of this that is producing results, after 25 years we don't have anything here. That is not fair to say. I am sure we have interesting research information that has come up through that research of that $613 million. I am sure there has been useful research, but it involves the destruction of young human life.
Before people who are watching this think: You have a cure for me in the adult stem cell area, I want to make sure to put forward that many of these are in clinical trials today. Not all of these are widely available yet. However, there has been success in all of these areas using adult stem cells. For some of these treatments adult stem cells were the main component. In others adult stem cells were the part that helped the main component to work. All of these are real and legitimate.
On the eve of last summer's biological debate, some scientists took it upon themselves to criticize this list by publishing a letter in the Journal of Science. In January this year, Science published a response to this initial letter. It is important that we put forward here the context of the adult stem cell treatment that has yielded so many human treatments to date. I want to put this in context.
In their letter ``Adult Stem Cell Treatments for Diseases?'' S. Smith et al. claim that we misrepresent a list of adult stem cell treatments benefiting patients.
But it is the Letter's authors who misrepresent our statements and the published literature, dismissing as irrelevant the many scientists and patients who have shown the benefits of adult stem cells.
We have stated that adult stem cell applications have ``helped,'' ``benefited,'' and ``improved'' patient conditions. Smith et al.'s Supporting Online Material repeatedly notes patient improvement from these cells. We have never stated that these treatments are ``generally available,'' ``cures,'' or ``fully tested in all required phases of clinical trials and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).'' Some studies do not require prior FDA approval, and even the nine supposedly ``fully approved'' treatments acknowledged by Smith et al. would not be considered ``cures'' or ``generally available'' to the public at this stage of research.
The insistence that no benefit is real until after FDA approval is misplaced. Such approval is not a medical standard to evaluate patient benefit, but an agency determination that benefits outweigh risks in a broad class of patients.
Physicians and patients use an evidentiary standard. Our list of 72 applications, [is] compiled from peer-reviewed articles, documents observable and measurable benefit to patients, a necessary step toward formal FDA approval and what is expected of new, cutting-edge medical applications.
As this debate moves forward, I look forward to sharing the stories of some of the real patients who have benefited from ethical adult stem cell research. We need more patients treated. We have more patients who need treatment. We have an area of high-yield Federal dollar investment where it should go, and we don't have the ethical barriers. We should be putting that money there; 72 to 0, that is the score. There are at least 72 human treatments and applications using adult stem cells. There are no human treatments with embryonic stem cells. With the rate of tumor formation which I previously noted, none seemed to be on the horizon soon.
This is acknowledged by some scientists. Notably, Science carried a piece in 2005 in which the authors note:
..... the clinical benefits of the research are years or maybe decades away. This is a message that desperate families and patients will not want to hear.
Yet we do have a message that desperate families and patients do want to hear; that is that we have treatments on the horizon, and we do in the adult and cord blood and amniotic fluid. We need the research money.
Harvard stem cell researcher David Shaywitz wrote in a 2005 Washington Post op-ed:
While stem cell advocates have helped voters connect embryonic stem cell research with compelling images of patients who might one day benefit from treatment, such therapies are unlikely to emerge soon enough to benefit most current proponents. .....
..... scientists must do a better job of articulating the limitations of our existing acknowledge, taking care to emphasize not only the ultimate therapeutic potential of these cells, but also how far we are from achieving such therapies.
Which road will we choose? Will we choose the ethical adult stem cell road that holds great promise and is currently producing treatments, or will we choose the unethical embryonic stem cell road that tramples on human dignity and has produced tumors to date? That is the point of the discussion.
This is not just an academic discussion, nor is it just a policy discussion. It involves real people. I showed you one person who was a real person. I started off with talking about David Foege who is excited about being alive. Let me show you Jacki Rabon, a paraplegic. I met Jacki last year. She has continued to improve. I want to share her story with you.
She lives in central Illinois. She had come to DC last year with her mother and sister because she wanted to tout her successful adult stem cell treatment. The courage of Jacki and many others like her is truly amazing. Years earlier, as an active 16-year-old, she was paralyzed in an automobile accident. As the car was flipping multiple times, Jacki was thrown from the vehicle and landed on her back on a country road. Her dreams of earning a volleyball scholarship for college were shattered.
In a letter sent to me last year, Jacki wrote this:
That day changed my outlook, my future aspirations and my complete life. Before the accident I was a very active 16-year-old. I played volleyball in school and was very good. I had hopes of going to college on a volleyball scholarship. I truly was living a nightmare after this tragedy. I really thought my life was over. I couldn't imagine not playing volleyball anymore, jumping on my trampoline with my young nephew, chasing after my niece or just taking a walk around my small community. Not only does something like this change the victim but it also disrupts and seriously affects your family.
I spent a little over a month in the hospital. I had back surgery to stabilize my back. I had a fracture at the T12 area, which made me a paraplegic. I had no feeling below the belly button. I had to learn to become independent again. I had to learn to dress, bathe, transfer from place to place, and take care of my personal hygiene and toiletry issues. It was so difficult and I struggled with these once simple tasks. After I accomplished these I was released and allowed to come home. I was simply told, ``You'll never walk again.'' That was my prognosis!
I got back to school a few months later and that was another adjustment. Everything looks and works differently when you are sitting in a wheelchair. I had to deal with a lot of depression and sadness. But I tried to continue with my life the best way that I could. I truly believe that my faith got me through. If it wasn't for this amazing love of God and my strong will and determination I don't know if I could have proceeded with what my life had become. But I have great determination along with the comforting faith and I didn't intend on giving up that easily. I wanted to give life another opportunity with my new ``lifestyle.''
Can you imagine the anguish of being a 16-year-old, your whole life in front of you, and then being confronted with this sort of tragedy?
Jacki was very fortunate, however, to have so many people who were looking out for her. Her pastor saw a PBS show called ``The Miracle Cell,'' about a procedure called olfactory mucosa transplantation being done in Portugal by Dr. Carlos Lima. The work involved transplanting adult stem cells from spinal cord patients' own sinus area into their spinal cord at the initial injury site.
This gave Jacki real hope. Continuing her letter, she wrote:
I listened to amazing recovery of returned sensation and even the ability to walk again with continued rehab from others after having this surgery. I remember thinking, ``There's my chance!'' I knew I wanted to pursue this possibility for me.
My mom and I started researching this procedure on the Internet and collected as much information that we could. We discovered a Spinal Cord Injury Institute getting ready to open in Detroit, Michigan, that summer. This institute was closely associated with Dr. Lima. We called to see if we could get an appointment to go and meet Dr. Steve Hinderer and asked about the procedure in depth and inquire about my chances of getting it done.
I did go to Detroit and was told that I could well be a good candidate. I was given the guidelines and criteria for having this done. After many months of additional testing, x-rays, etc., I was accepted.
This was very exhilarating for me. I had read about the success stories of the individuals that have gone before me. Their various success stories gave me so much hope!
I had so much support from my family, friends, church, community and surrounding areas to raise the $50.000.000 needed to have this surgery. Without this overwhelming support I could not have gone forward with this incredible opportunity.
I went to Portugal in October 2005. I had the procedure done on October 29th. My experience in Portugal was not all pleasant. My mom and I had to deal with the language barrier and the unfamiliar culture. I returned to the states on November 5th. I rested at home for a few weeks then went to Detroit to the Institute for aggressive rehab. Rehab was very tiring and indeed very aggressive. It was an exhausting experience but a very rewarding one. It was there that I took my first steps on the parallel bars. I was up!
My progress since undergoing this surgery has been amazing! I have a lot of hip movement, some tingling and heaviness in my legs. I have continued with my rehab regimen at home. I have leg braces that were fitted to me. I can walk on parallel bars and have begun walking with a walker. I am up on my feet again! That's the most satisfying feeling. Unless you have been confined in a wheelchair for an extended amount of time you can't really know how rewarding it is to be standing again.
This brings me to the ongoing debate over adult stem cell research. I did not think a lot about this issue before the accident but now it has sparked a great interest within me. First, I am very much against embryonic stem cell research and advancement. I do not support this aspect at all. The killing of human life is appalling to me. But with adult stem cell and non-embryonic stem cell research I have become an advocate. My personal experience with adult stem cell transplantation should awaken the United States to the unlimited possibilities. This technique is simply, ``your body healing itself.'' Medical research in the United States has always been respected and admired for the advances toward cure for cancer, arthritis treatments and medication, heart disease and other well-known diseases and ailments. But when it comes to spinal cord injuries the U.S. is very much in the negative category. We as taxpayers pay more money in the daily care of a spinal cord injury victim than we do on a cure. Now why is that? The medical society treats the injury at the onset then teaches the individual to live in a wheelchair and function accordingly. Then they are sent home and told, ``You will never walk again.'' I experienced that first hand.
But I am walking again. I have goals of walking by the end of the year with my braces and crutches. This was made possible by the procedure in Portugal--Portugal, not the United States--and aggressive rehab. But I had to leave the comfort of my home and country and travel to a foreign area to get this done. Now that is sad, isn't it?
This tragedy that happened to me can happen to anyone. It could be your wife, husband, son, daughter or friend. What would you want for them? Simply a statement, ``You'll never walk again'' or ``Never give up hope there is a better option for you.''
Jacki Rabon writes:
Wake up United States! We are missing out. Let's look at the issue in a more personal level--I can walk again.
These are the moving words this courageous young lady wrote last summer.
Jacki's progress does continue. We received an e-mail from Jacki's mom, Becki, in the last few weeks. Becki Rabon writes:
Jacki is doing wonderfully. She did have a slight hip problem a few weeks ago. She was experiencing a lot of pain. We had x-rays, Ultrasounds and lab work done.
Thank God, it was only tightness in her hip muscles. The pain of course was not good ..... but it was in a way that is good since Jacki is getting more feeling in her hips.
Otherwise, she is still walking with her braces and a walker at our church. She walks independently now. All I do is help her with getting the braces on and stabilizing the walker while she stands up. Then she can walk by herself. The distance has increased considerably. The next step for her is to start walking outside and at home. She needs to be on more normal terrain.
This is an amazing story, and the science that has gone into Jacki's treatment is truly revolutionary, miraculous. Adult stem cell therapy--what could it do with another $600 million? How far along could we be?
A June 2006 study in the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine reported on Dr. Lima having transplanted nasal stem cells into seven patients with spinal cord injury. The patients regained some motor function and sensation, and two patients showed bladder control improvement.
Most of the adult stem cell work in this area is still being done in lab animals, but it is already starting to have human applications. You have to ask yourself, why would we want to go down the unethical embryonic stem cell road when the doors are already being opened by adult stem cells and you already have these types of human stories taking place? Why, when we have something that is working?
Shown in this picture is Jacki Rabon.
I am going to tell an amazing story about Dr. Dennis Turner. He came in to testify in the Senate Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Science and Technology. He testified in 2004. He suffered from Parkinson's disease. I want to read portions of his testimony. I show you a picture of Dr. Dennis Turner. He stated:
For 14 years I've had Parkinson's Disease. This irreversible disease involves the slow destruction of specialized cells in the brain, called Dopamine Neurons. By early 1991 I suffered extreme shaking of the right side of my body, stiffness in my gait and movements. After some years of medication, I developed fluctuation and poor response to Sinemet. This made daily activities needing the coordinated use of both hands hard or impossible, such as putting in contact lenses. My disability prevented me from using my right arm.
Other than my Parkinson's symptoms I was physically very active and fit. Because of this Dr. Levesque felt that I'd be a good candidate for an experimental treatment. He explained that he would take a very small tissue sample from my brain, removing its adult neural stem cells. He would then multiply and mature these cells into Dopamine Neurons, then inject these cells back into the left side of my brain. He proposed treating only the left side because it controls the right side of the body, the side with the most severe Parkinson's symptoms.
Dr. Levesque did not tell me that this treatment would permanently cure my condition. Science has yet to learn what causes Parkinson's Disease, much less how to remove it. However, since this cell-replacement approach had never been tried in a human patient we hoped for the best. And since my only other realistic alternative was to continue growing worse until I eventually died, I decided to have the surgical procedures in 1999, one to remove the tissue and another to inject the cells. I was awake for both procedures, under local anesthesia.
Soon after having the cells injected my Parkinson's symptoms began to improve. My trembling grew less and less, until to all appearances it was gone, only slightly reappearing if I became upset. Dr. Levesque had me tested by a Neurologist, who said he wouldn't have known I had Parkinson's if he had met me on the street. I was once again able to use my right hand and arm normally, enjoying activities that I had given up hope of ever doing.
Since being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease my condition had slowly, but continuously worsened. I can't say with certainty what my condition would have become if Dr. Levesque had not used my own adult stem cells to treat me. But I have no doubt that because of this treatment I've enjoyed five years of quality life that I feared had passed me by.
Last year, after 4 years of being virtually symptom free, my Parkinson's symptoms began reappearing in my body's left side. Today I have various degrees of trembling in both hands, although I feel that the left is slightly worse. Nevertheless, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to have Dr. Levesque use my adult stem cells to treat me a second time, since in my case they were safe, effective, and involved no risk of rejection.
Because of my improvements through Dr. Levesque's treatment I've been able to indulge in my passion for big game photography these past 5 years.
This man suffering severe Parkinson's for 5 years being able to indulge in his passion for big game photography.
While on safari in 2001 I scrambled up a tree to avoid being run over by a Rhino. I swam in the South Atlantic with Great White Sharks. Two weeks ago I returned from Africa after photographing Cheetahs and Leopards in the wild.
This is a man with severe Parkinson's.
Here are a few examples of the pictures I took. They represent memories and experiences I feel I have Dr. Levesque to thank for. I came here to offer him my sincere gratitude, and to offer others with Parkinson's a concrete reason for hope.
This summarizes my history with Parkinson's and the positive effects I experienced through a treatment that used my own adult stem cells. I'm very happy with its results and would dearly love to have a second treatment.
Mr. President, I cite this example because here is a route forward for us. We want to treat people with Parkinson's. Here is a route forward that has been shown in a human clinical trial setting, with positive results for a period of time. Why would we want to waste that? Why wouldn't we want to fund that and to use it aggressively?
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I wish to resume the discussion on embryonic stem cell research. I wish to resume the discussion on adult stem cell successes and why we should not move forward on destroying more human life for the purposes of research.
I wish to start out with a simple picture, a picture of one child, Hannah. She was a frozen embryo. I wish to just go through this briefly because we talk about frozen embryos as though this is something you can discard and there is really no significance here, or if there is, it is minimal, it is not really human, it is just something that is sitting there in a frozen state and we should just research on this person. I note this because Hannah was a frozen embryo. She was adopted. She was implanted. Then here we are looking at her in April of 2001 at age 28 months.
I met Hannah. She has been in my office. She is a bright, young, vivacious girl. I point out that she starts out as what we are talking about researching on here--she starts out being frozen, alive, adopted as an embryo, arrives in a clinic, is thawed, implantated, and develops a heartbeat. Here is a picture of her at 21 weeks. We can see her, and we can see the development.
The reason I point this out, and I guess it should be obvious to everybody, but what we are talking about is something in embryology books that is defined as human. It is defined as a person with a 46-chromosomes. It is defined as a unique person who will never be recreated. We are defining and talking about somebody. If these frozen embryos are adopted, they can be implanted and grow into human beings.
Hannah as she was in April of 2001, Hannah who was in my office.
I urge more people to look at this as a possible option. A number of people have embryos at IVF clinics, frozen embryos at IVF clinics. This is a viable option if people don't want to have them implanted in themselves. If they are extra, they could consider that there are a number of people who cannot conceive who want to adopt. I urge people to look at this as a possible and viable option and a beautiful option that people would look at. This is happening quite a few times in places across the United States. It is important. It is a great option.
My wife and I have adopted two children--not at the frozen embryo stage
but at a later stage. I can say with all candor, it is a wonderful thing. It has been a great gift to our family to have two of our children who are adopted. With the rest of our family, it has just been fabulous for all of us.
I hope people will look at this as a viable option. It is a viable option technologically. This is something people can do. You can do this today. This can take place. It does take place. It is a regular event that takes place. It is something you can feel good about in doing and having a beautiful child who is here and functioning and in the world and bringing joy to people's eyes.
Our two adopted children are both 9, and they bring great joy to everybody they are around. Even when they are bugging their older sister, they bring her joy. It is just a great thing to do, and I really hope we can do a lot more of this if people would consider this as a real option rather than just saying these are extra embryos or these are throwaways or they are going to be disposed of anyway. Why not look for the best option? Why not look for this beautiful option which is out there instead of saying: Well, we can't do anything with them anyway; let's just discard them.
There is another option here. There is a different chance. There is another hope. That child, then, can bring into the world so much joy and possibilities that are endless. Why not that one? What is wrong with that option? I hope people will really look at this as a real chance and something they can do.
In my earlier remarks, I read a definition from an embryology textbook which affirmed that each individual life begins as a 46-chromosome embryo. The Presiding Officer did. I did. Senator Harkin from Iowa did. Textbook definitions are good, but living examples are often even better, and that is what I am showing in this chart. Of course, each one of us alive today is an example that life begins at an embryonic stage because we were all once embryos. Another clear example of this truth is those children today--137, I am told, with 16 currently in utero--who used to be numbered among the so-called spare or leftover embryos. That is not as many as I hope it will be, and I hope in the future we can have a lot more.
Last year, I had the privilege of meeting one of these young children, a young girl named Hannah. We can see her life growth along this continuum in this chart. Of course, if she is terminated in any phase along this way, she is not out here. Life is that continuum. I would like to draw the attention of my colleagues to this and in particular ask, how can we just wantonly destroy these embryos for research purposes with taxpayer funding because they are allegedly spare, left over, or just going to be destroyed anyway? It is wrong to turn living human persons into research objects to be exploited. I believe those embryos which have been adopted make this point very well.
I also wish to note that currently in the United States, it is not illegal anywhere in the country for a person to donate an embryo to develop a stem cell, an embryonic stem cell line. It is not illegal anywhere. What we are talking about in the Senate today is expanding the Federal taxpayer funding for human embryonic stem cell research. We are talking about taxpayer funding of this research that is considered highly unethical to a number of our fellow Americans. It is something we do not need to do.
On the point of not needing to do fund this research with taxpayer dollars, I ask unanimous consent that an article be printed in the Record at the end of my statement.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
(See exhibit 1.)
Mr. BROWNBACK. This was an article posted at CNN at 4:05 eastern daylight time that ``Type I diabetics live without insulin in stem cell experiment.'' This is just out on CNN this afternoon. ``Thirteen young diabetics in Brazil ..... '' That is a point I have been making. This research should be done in the United States. Instead, it is going other places:
Thirteen young diabetics in Brazil have ditched their insulin shots and need no other medication, thanks to a risky but promising treatment with their own stem cells--apparently the first time such a feat has been accomplished.
This is just a highlighting of this particular article. Again, the research is being done in Brazil. You will see some consistency on points. If you followed my earlier comments, I was talking about a gentleman who was getting a heart treatment with his own stem cells in Bangkok, Thailand; a young lady in Illinois who received treatment for her spinal cord injury, a paraplegic, in Portugal. Now this diabetic work is being done in Brazil. All of this adult stem cell work that is taking place is outside of the country rather than being done here and us funding and doing it in America. If we are losing the battle in the research anywhere, it seems to be in the adult stem cell field that is producing these types of treatments.
Let me proceed. This is an AP story. It was on CNN. I am reading:
Thirteen young diabetics in Brazil have ditched their insulin shots and need no other medication thanks to a risky but promising treatment with their own stem cells--apparently the first time such a feat has been accomplished. Though too early to call it a cure, the procedure has enabled the young people, who have Type 1 diabetes, to live insulin-free so far, some as long as three years. The treatment involves stem cell transplants from the patients' own blood.
``It's the first time in the history of Type I diabetes where people have gone with no treatment whatsoever ..... no medications at all, with normal blood sugars,'' said study co-author Dr. Richard Burt of Northwestern University's medical school in Chicago, Illinois.
While the procedure can be potentially life-threatening, none of the 15 patients in the study died or suffered lasting side effects. But it didn't work for two of them. Larger, more rigorous studies are needed to determine whether stem cell transplants could become standard treatment for people with the disease once called juvenile diabetes. It is less common than Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity.
The hazards of stem cell transplantation also raise questions about whether the study should have included children. One patient was as young as 14. Dr. Lainie Ross, a medical ethicist at the University of Chicago, said the researchers should have studied adults first before exposing young teens to the potential harms of stem cell transplant, which include infertility and late-onset cancers. In addition, Ross said that the study should have had a comparison group to make sure the treatment was indeed better than standard diabetes care.
Burt, who wrote the study protocol, said the research was done in Brazil because U.S. doctors were not interested in the approach. The study was approved by ethics committees in Brazil, he said, adding that he personally believes it was appropriate to do the research in children as well as adults, as long as the Brazilian ethics panels approved. Burt and other diabetes experts called the results an important step forward.
``It's the threshold of a very promising time for the field,'' said Dr. Jay Skyler of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami. Skyler wrote an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which published the study, saying the results are likely to stimulate research that may lead to methods of preventing or reversing Type 1 diabetes.
``These are exciting results. They look impressive,'' said Dr. Gordon Weir of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Massachusetts. Still, Weir cautioned that more studies are needed to make sure the treatment works and is safe. ``It's really too early to suggest to people that this is a cure,'' he said.
The patients involved were ages 14 to 31 and had newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetes. An estimated 12 million to 24 million people worldwide--including 1 to 2 million in the United States--have this form of diabetes, which is typically diagnosed in children or young adults. An autoimmune disease, it occurs when the body attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is needed to regulate blood sugar levels, which, when too high, can lead to heart disease, blindness, nerve problems and kidney damage.
Burt said the stem cell transplant is designed to stop the body's immune attack on the pancreas.
A study published last year described a different kind of experimental transplant, using pancreas cells from donated cadavers, that enabled a few diabetics to give up insulin shots. But that requires lifelong use of anti-rejection medicine, which isn't needed by the Brazil patients since the stem cells were their own.
The 15 diabetics were treated at a bone marrow center at the University of Sao Paulo. All had newly diagnosed diabetes, and their insulin-producing cells had not been destroyed. That timing is key, Burt said. ``If you wait too long,'' he said, ``you've exceeded the body's ability to repair itself.''
And he talks about repairing itself later in this article. I wish to hit that point. The procedure involves stimulating the body into producing new stem cells and harvesting them from the patient's blood. Next comes several days of high-dose chemotherapy, which virtually shuts down the patient's immune system and stops destruction of the few remaining insulin-producing cells in the body. This requires hospitalization and potent drugs to fend off infection. The harvested stem cells, when injected back into the body, build a new healthier immune system that does not attack the insulin-producing cells.
Patients were hospitalized for about 3 weeks. Many had side effects. One developed pneumonia, the only severe complication. The doctors changed the drug regime after treatments failed in the first patient who ended up needing more insulin than before the study, and another patient also relapsed. The remaining 13 live ``a normal life without taking insulin,'' said the study coauthor, Dr. Julio Voltareli of the University of Sao Paulo. ``They all went back to their lives.''
The patients enrolled in the study at different times so the length of time they have been insulin-free also differs. Dr. Burgess had some success using the same procedure in 170 patients with other autoimmune diseases, including lupus and multiple sclerosis; one patient with an autoimmune form of blindness can now see, Dr. Burgess said, and then he had this quote: The body has a tremendous potential to repair.
The study was partly funded by the Brazilian Ministry of Health and Genzyme Corporation, a maker of blood sugar monitoring products.
Now, why are we not doing these treatments in America? Why would we not be funding this sort of work? We do not have unlimited amounts of funds to go around. We are putting $613 million into speculative embryonic stem cell research that has produced no cures. Yet we are having people from the United States go to Bangkok and to Portugal and to Brazil to get these treatments that are financed by the Brazilian Ministry of Health, along with a private corporation that is the maker of blood sugar monitoring products. Why is it not being done here? There are now 13 young diabetics who ditched their insulin shots. That is beautiful news. It should be done here.
Yet we are starving this field that is producing so many results, putting in $613 million into embryonic stem cell research that is highly speculative, that is considered unethical by many of our fellow citizenry in the United States, and is producing no treatments or cures, while people are going to Brazil to be able to deal with diabetes or to Portugal to deal with spinal cord injuries or to Thailand to deal with congestive heart failure and heart disease.
Now is something wrong with this? I think it clearly is wrong when we are not seeing these treatments here, the treatments are going to other places, and we are not funding them. We need to do more in the adult stem cell field, in the cord blood field, we need to do more in amniotic fluid, we need to do more in the placenta stem cell field. American citizens should not have to go to Brazil and other places to get this cutting-edge technology.
Yet we will spend a lot of time debating on the floor over embryonic stem cells, or the need to do research on both adult and embryonic, but the problem is we do not have infinite amounts of money. We do have a limited research budget. The money we are putting into the embryonic field, destroying human life at taxpayer expense, does not go into adult stem cell work. It does not go into other areas where we could do more research, to get the results that would treat people so that diabetics do not need their insulin shots. It is cutting-edge work being done somewhere else. We are not funding it.
I want to talk, too, about another aspect of this that I have not brought up previously, and that is private-sector funding. I note on this diabetes story that was out on the AP wire that there was a private corporation, Genzyme Corporation, a maker of blood sugar monitoring products.
It is not illegal anywhere to do embryonic stem cell research in this country, and if it is so promising in the health care field, one would think there would be heavy private-sector investment taking place in embryonic stem cell research. If this is producing and holds the key to curing Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and diabetes, then one would think there would be a flood of private-sector money coming into this field to develop and to get the early patents on some of the work.
Let's see what is happening in the investor community on this. How many private investors are going into it? We can talk about following the money into the field. This is a July 17, 2006, edition of the New York Sun, an article written by Harold Furchtgott-Roth, former FCC Commissioner. I wish to quote some from this article. I will put this in. He says this:
For investors, the debate over Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research is an indication that profits are remote. In many, if not most, areas of technology--including electronics, chemistry, and computing--the frontiers of research and development are spearheaded by private business. Where profits are a powerful inducement, innovation needs little federal funding.
From pharmaceuticals to electronic monitoring equipment, much of medical research advances to the drumbeat of capitalism. Innovative ideas are rewarded. Tens of billions of private dollars in America and around the world finance new research because it offers visible roads to rewards.
What does he say about stem cell research? We knew this to be true, that there is heavy investment in the commercial sector in pharmaceutical supplies and electronics and computing.
One of the big driving areas is the private sector or the investors going into these fields and investing heavily. So what are they doing in stem cell research, in embryonic stem cell research today?
To date, private investment in stem cell research has been relatively small and unrewarding. Several publicly traded but relatively small American companies
He lists a couple--
..... conduct research and development on stem
cells. Many privately held companies also pursue stem cell research, but venture capital backing for stem cell research is waning.
It is not growing, it is waning.
Nor is there substantial private research and development migrating abroad. American financial institutions raise enormous funds to invest in businesses engaged in medical research both in America and abroad--
We certainly know that to be true--but little if any of that money targets foreign investment in stem cell research companies.
The current policy does not appear to have left America backward in the basic science of stem cell research. According to a recent study in ``Nature Biotechnology,'' American scientists account for the dominant share of research publications on embryonic stem cell research, and the number of publications is growing rapidly. Perhaps American science will be even more dominant with greater Federal funding, but the stimulus for that funding should not be that we are falling hopelessly behind the rest of the world.
Mr. President, I ask that the rest of this article in its entirety be inserted at the conclusion of my comments.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
(See exhibit 2).
Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, my point in saying this is that we know this is true. We know that in the medical health field, if there are some great results that are coming that could be patentable or provide treatments--that the medical sector of our economy is growing as a percentage of the gross national product, that I think is somewhere around 15 percent now, growing faster, that there is a heavy investment in medical research taking place, we know that in the pharmaceutical industry, we know that in the medical treatment areas that is taking place.
So why is that not happening in embryonic stem cells? The reason is because it is not producing any results. Instead, we have health ministries and corporations going abroad to make these investments in the adult field when they feel like there is not sufficient interest here taking place.
That should tell us something; that is, the private sector is not putting money in. Indeed, the private-sector research is waning. These are all indicators that we ought to be looking at and asking ourselves: What is taking place?
Now earlier I covered some of the advances in stem cell research that has happened, and I note I wish to build on the statement put forward by today's AP story on Type 1 Diabetes being treated in Brazil with adult stem cells and my comments about the lack of private-sector investment.
I wish to hit another point as to why the private sector is not investing in embryonic stem cell research. I made it part of this presentation earlier, but I wish to make it stronger now; that is, that embryonic stem cells produce tumors.
This is continuing to come out in all the data, and I think it is part of the reason why you do not see private investors going into this field. If this is the pharmaceutical field and the drugs you are treating people with are producing tumors, it is unlikely that that drug is going to get approved by the FDA, it is unlikely it is going to move forward in any sort of drug delivery system or it is going to be accepted by the public if there is a high likelihood that you are going to get tumors.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to put this set of documents in at the end of my statement.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
(See exhibit 3).
Mr. BROWNBACK. This is a series of front pages of articles of the various scientific publications where we have had, to date, tumors being developed by embryonic stem cells. These are in animal models because, of course, we do not have any human clinical trials that are taking place yet with embryonic stem cells. These are all in the animal field. But we are seeing continuously in the research results, as I stated earlier, that the embryonic stem cells injected into animal models are creating teratomas, creating tumors.
This, as I quoted earlier, happened in the fetal tissue debate of 15 years ago, when they were creating teratomas or tumors, and we are now seeing the tumors come up again consistently in the research data on embryonic stem cell work. And here--this gets quite technical. But I wish to read some of the quotations in these various articles, that if any of my colleagues would like to look it up, this will be in the Record.
Here is a research article from 2004, when cultures were transplanted in diabetic mice--we were just talking about a successful diabetic treatment in humans--this is in diabetic mice. They formed teratomas--again those are tumors--and did not reverse the hyperglycemic state. This is the first page of a 2004 scientific publication. Here is an embryonic stem cell publication, and this is the front page of this article, that is out in a 2006 article: Embryonic stem cells derived neuroprogeny, more than 70 percent of mice that received these types of embryonic stem cells developed teratomas, thus posing a major safety problem is what this article noted, that 70 percent of mice developed tumors. It does not sound like that one is going very well.
We have another one in the Stem Cell publication, again 2006 publication, developed severe teratomas, in this particular publication, using human embryonic stem cells again in lab rats, grafted into lab rats. That one is not going very well.
Here is a 2005 article from a publication: Four weeks postimplantation, cells implanted in high numbers formed teratomas in the majority of the animals implanted. That one is not going very well.
Here is a Brazilian publication involving brain tissue: Unlimited self-renewal in high differentiation poses the risk of tumor induction after engraftment. This is December of 2004.
That one is taking place, and it is not going very well.
Here is another publication. This one is from 2003. Conclusions: Transplanted ES cells can be grafted. The cells will, however, form a tumor if they leak into an improper space such as the thoracic cavity. Now we have a bigger problem. If the stem cells leak into another area, they form tumors in other parts of the body. That is not going very well.
Here is another publication. This is a 2005 publication. When the cultured cells were transplanted into diabetic mice, they reversed the hyperglycemic case for 3 weeks, but the rescue failed due to immature teratoma formation and then formed cancer cells. So they did something for 3 weeks, and that didn't work out very well.
Here is another publication. This is out of Washington University, 2004. Results suggest transplanting ES cells into the injured spinal cord does not improve locomotive recovery and can lead to tumor-like growth of cells, accompanied by increased debilitation, morbidity, and mortality. That one is not going well.
That is a set of publications. This is just the front pages of these that I am entering into the Record. My point is not to belittle embryonic stem cells. My point is this is highly consistent with the fetal tissue work earlier and what is working. We have a route that is moving. Why would we move on forward, putting $620 million of Federal money into an area that has not worked for 25 years.
I recognize my colleague from Alabama.
Mr. SESSIONS. I wanted to ask my colleague if he will yield for a question?
Mr. BROWNBACK. I am happy to yield for a question.
Mr. SESSIONS. I thank my colleague for the many hours of effort he has put into this to analyze the data that is out there about this important issue. It has been helpful to us. I know some people think it is an easy question for them. Senator Brownback has taken the road less traveled. He has been willing to dig into the issue because it does touch on real moral and ethical questions. It is not a light matter.
Let me ask the Senator a question. Is it true that the embryonic stem cells we are talking about here, if allowed to grow and mature, would be a human being, and that human being's height, hair, eye color, and all, would have been determined at that very moment when it was at that embryonic stem cell stage, how they would grow and mature?
Mr. BROWNBACK. Yes. My colleague states the obvious. It is when you get that first set of chromosomes from your mother and father that your hair color, so many of your features are determined. It doesn't change. That is your genetic material, and you get it from the very earliest instance.
Mr. SESSIONS. So the life that is being proposed here, it is life, I think no one can dispute that. It is a living organism. This life, if allowed to develop, will be developed into a distinct human person?
Mr. BROWNBACK. Yes.
Mr. SESSIONS. So I think that implicates some questions to all of us. It is not a thing outside the realm of reason. Good people question whether we should experiment on that life. You had a number of children who were brought here, snowflake babies. I didn't get to be with you on that occasion, but it was reported to me. Would you tell us about those children you saw?
Mr. BROWNBACK. I have a picture of one here. This is Hannah, one of the first snowflake babies. It is a pretty simple and direct story. Just like you and me, they started out as embryos. They went into a frozen state for a period of time. Then they were allowed to be adopted by other individuals and implanted into a mother's womb and then grew in a normal process that takes place. The point you made earlier that I think should be so obvious to all of our colleagues is this is Hannah here and this is Hannah at an earlier stage when she is an embryo, just as we were at one point in time.
Mr. SESSIONS. This very type embryo is what we are talking about experimenting with under the legislation that is before us.
Mr. BROWNBACK. With Federal taxpayer dollars; that is what we are talking about.
Mr. SESSIONS. With regard to this, we know good people can differ. I certainly believe good people can differ. I don't count myself morally superior to anybody on these questions. I am not a scientist. I certainly haven't studied it to the extent that you or other Members of this body have. Senator Coburn and Senator Hatch and others have studied it. Some have different opinions about it. I don't think it is an insignificant matter that this is a piece of life, a small embryonic life that would grow into a distinct human being. That is what we are talking about providing Federal funds to experiment with.
It is not a crime today for a private person or a university to experiment on this, even if it causes people moral and ethical problems, is it?
Mr. BROWNBACK. That is correct. It is not a crime today.
Mr. SESSIONS. Private people are doing that today?
Mr. BROWNBACK. That is correct.
Mr. SESSIONS. I guess in 2001, President Bush acknowledged there were embryonic lines available at that time and that any action we took at that moment against those lines did not implicate human life. He said those lines
would be available for embryonic stem cells for any university that would apply; is that correct?
Mr. BROWNBACK. That is correct, and that Federal taxpayer funds could be used to experiment on those human embryonic stem cell lines where the life-and-death decision had already been made.
Mr. SESSIONS. I had heard at some point that those lines may not be continuing, but I am informed that in fact those lines do continue, at least some of them, and that there is a substantial number of embryonic cells available for research if they were asked for, but they haven't been all utilized; is that correct?
Mr. BROWNBACK. That is correct as well.
Mr. SESSIONS. So when we get up to this line of experimenting with human life, one of the things I would ask myself is, is this medically necessary? Is this a matter about which we are debating that would prevent some sort of research? The way I see it, there are federally funded stem cells available for research today, as you have explained. Then there is no limit whatsoever on the number of stem cells that are available in the private sector, at our universities and our great research centers in the world and in the United States; is that correct?
Mr. BROWNBACK. That is correct. Any sort of private sector investment can take place, any sort of State or local investment can take place, although, as I noted in the article, the private sector does not seem to be putting much money into the field. I believe that is clearly because of a lack of results.
Mr. SESSIONS. I think that is important for you to share with us. Because decisions become easier when there is not a crisis. We deal with self-defense issues and moral issues a lot of times, but doesn't seem to me we are at that critical juncture in our scientific activity that would require the American people, through the expenditures of their dollars, to affirm this procedure. Would the Senator not agree if the American people fund this procedure, then it represents a national blessing of the procedure, in effect, an approval of this procedure as moral and legitimate?
Mr. BROWNBACK. Well, it clearly does. It says you treat the youngest of human life as property, not as a person. You noted this is alive. Yet some would say it is not a life. It is alive, but it has not yet risen to the level of being a human life. This would say we can treat humans at the youngest age of their life continuum as property and that we will use Federal taxpayer dollars to destroy them and to do research on them at that point in time. If you can do that at earlier stages, why not later? What is the differentiation? At what point in time does this become removed from property to becoming a person as it somehow does magically in this process? My point is, the place to start is at the beginning, when the life begins. Otherwise, there is no significant place you can draw any line along the way saying at this point in time it becomes a person entitled to the protection of the law and society. Right now we are treating the youngest of humans as property.
Mr. SESSIONS. I am uneasy about it. I don't claim to know all of it. I haven't studied it to the extent you have. I know entities of great augustness such as the Catholic Church have serious theologians and scientists. They are uneasy with it. I am not Catholic, but I understand that. People have invested a lot of time and effort and feel this is crossing a line that is dangerous for us to cross. From what I am hearing from your remarks, you don't think it is necessary to cross that line to do the kind of research that could actually save lives and that we all hope will save lives one day?
Mr. BROWNBACK. If our objective is healing people, if that is our objective, we have a far more likely route, a route that is already producing substantial success that is lying right in front of us, without ethical concerns or dilemmas--adult stem cells, cord blood. Increasingly, in the future, in amniotic fluid we will find abundant supplies of stem cells with no moral problems whatsoever. That is what doesn't make any sense to me either. We are going to take away all human dignity from the youngest humans. We are going to do so in an arbitrary fashion because we are not saying where you develop the status of human dignity at some point in time, but we are going to take it away from you here. We are going to use Federal taxpayer dollars to destroy you. Yet we have another way that is producing good results in the adult stem cells, stem cells in your body and in mine, and this route is producing tumors. It doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense why we would invest $613 million more into the future as we have in the past since 2002. Why would you put more into this area that has all these problems? I respect my colleagues who are on the other side of this debate. They want to produce results and they want to cure people. But it seems as if all the evidence is leading us the other way without ethical dilemma. So why would we then do that, if all the evidence is pointing another way and we don't have unlimited resources, we can't put this to better, higher use, and not having hopefully people in the future have to leave our country to get adult stem cell therapies from out of country?
Mr. SESSIONS. I will say this, I thank you for utilizing the free speech this great Senate allows us to raise questions that some perhaps just as soon would not talk about. I do think a decent respect for those millions of Americans who strongly believe this is not a good thing to do, that this is crossing boundaries we ought not to cross, and saying we are going to take your money in disrespect of your views and spend it on a procedure you strongly feel is not the right thing, committing our Nation officially as approving this procedure is not a bridge we have to cross. That is where I come down at this point.
I do not claim to be all knowing, but that is what I would say.
I say to Senator Brownback, I would share with you a letter I received in March, just about a month ago, from a constituent in my State who e-mailed me in support of S. 5, and I sent back some of the thoughts my staff and I had put together on it. I got this letter. It is addressed to me, but it could probably be better addressed to you based on the work you and others have done. He had a child who had a recent four-wheeler accident and was a quadriplegic. This is his quote:
In our desire to see our son again have use of his limbs, we allowed our opinions to be influenced by the media. You were so kind to respond to our e-mail with a letter stating your opinions and thoughts. After doing more research, listening to the opinions of a long-time quadriplegic, and praying about this issue, we are pleased with the position you have taken against this legislation. We felt we owed you an apology--
They certainly did not--
and thank you for your adherence to Christian moral boundaries when voting on public policy.
I know a lot of people have different views on this issue, and some think everybody in the country has a certain view on it. But I think if more people understood the remarks you made, the great research that is ongoing that could actually cure or heal spinal cord injuries, could help with diabetes and Parkinson's and other diseases--if this were critical to the passage of this legislation, I think we would have a more difficult choice to make.
But I think, as you have explained it, at this point in history and in science, we are at a point where that research can continue. It is not stopped, and it is not necessary for us to make that final step to cross this barrier and begin to officially, as a nation, experiment with human life.
So I say to the Senator, thank you for your work. You have led me around to this position. I think I will not be supporting S. 30 and will be supporting S. 5. I think it is a better way--excuse me, which one is it, I ask Senator Brownback?
Mr. BROWNBACK. S. 30.
Mr. SESSIONS. Yes, I think you are correct. I will be supporting S. 30 and voting against S. 5. And this has been an important debate. The American people have had the opportunity to hear some good arguments and a great deal of science and research. We are heading in the right direction, I believe, with the President saying he will not accept S. 5. I respect him for it. He stood up, absolutely. He has studied the issue, and he has firm views about it. Whereas the legislation may pass here, I am hopeful it will not finally become law.
Thank you very much.
Mr. BROWNBACK. I thank my colleague from Alabama. I note for his
constituent, who sent such a kind letter, one of our lead examples is this woman shown in this picture, Jacki Rabon, who is a paraplegic, not a quadriplegic, from a car accident and was treated with adult stem cells--her own--in Portugal instead of the United States and is now walking with the aid of braces. There is tingling and feeling now throughout her legs, and hopefully that will continue. In all of these cases, it is important we get early treatments and people get treated--and I want to see that increasingly in the United States.
Mr. SESSIONS. Let me just interrupt you there because people miss this, perhaps. You are saying she was treated with adult stem cells?
Mr. BROWNBACK. She was treated with her own stem cells.
Mr. SESSIONS. So it was not necessary for her treatment to have embryonic stem cells?
Mr. BROWNBACK. It was not necessary. The only thing that was necessary is she had to travel to Portugal.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The time controlled by the Senator has now expired.
Mr. BROWNBACK. Thank you, Mr. President.
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