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Smith Highlights Rapid Advances in Adult Stem Cell Research

Location: Washington, DC

Smith Highlights Rapid Advances in Adult Stem Cell Research
August 4, 2005

Urges Senate Action on Cord Blood Stem Cell Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) today pointed to encouraging developments in adult stem cell research and urged the Senate to move forward on legislation to expand treatment and research into this growing field. Smith is the author of H.R. 2520 - The Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act, which was overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives earlier this year and is awaiting action by the Senate.

"One of the best kept secrets in America today is that umbilical cord blood stem cells and adult stem cells are already treating patients and curing them of terrible conditions and diseases," said Smith, who is has been pushing for a federal cord blood program for the last three years.

Adult stem cells (ASCs) are culled from body tissues as well as umbilical cords and placenta and have been used to induce muscle or vessel growth in human hearts. ASCs are currently used in over 250 human clinical trials and are treating over 80 different diseases.

Within the last week, Swedish researchers at the Stockholm Karolinska Institute have successfully used adult stem cells to generate functioning human brain cells. This groundbreaking research has the potential to produce effective treatments for spinal cord injuries and neurological damage and diseases. In addition, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are using high concentrations of ASCs to build new arteries in adults - which has the potential to help millions of heart patients each year. Test results in over 100 patients reveal that within just three months of stem cell injections, patients see a significant improvement in blood flow to the heart.

"These developments - within the last several days - are the most recent examples that ASCs hold the key to unlocking the cures for diseases that are currently untreatable," Smith said. "The Cord Blood Bill will systematically turn medical waste - umbilical cords and placenta - into medical miracles for many very sick and terminally ill patients."

Smith's bill authorizes $79 million in federal funding to launch a cord blood inventory and research system, and it provides $158 million for the reauthorization and expansion of the ongoing federal bone marrow transplant program. The bill also brings cord blood and bone marrow stem cell data under a new program to provide an easy, single access point for information for doctors and patients, and for the purpose of collecting and analyzing outcomes data.

"It is sadly ironic that in the week following Senator Frist's claims that adult stem cells do not hold the potential of embryonic stem cells, scientific research has continued to show otherwise," said Smith, who participated in a press conference with other House Leaders last Friday to rebut Senator Frist's statement. "These two new ASC breakthroughs continue to broaden their scientific advantage over embryo cells."

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