Obama Lifts Ban on Funds for Stem-Cell Research; Scientists Hope Move Will Help Find Cures for Diseases like Alzheimer's

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 10, 2009 | Go to article overview

Obama Lifts Ban on Funds for Stem-Cell Research; Scientists Hope Move Will Help Find Cures for Diseases like Alzheimer's


Byline: Matt Williams

PRESIDENT Barack Obama yesterday overturned a ban on federal funding for stem cell research, reversing the policy of his predecessor.

Mr Obama said the move would open the door for America to" lead the world" in laboratory work to find cures for a number of devastating diseases and conditions.

In lifting the ban, the President stated that the White House would make scientific decisions "based on facts, not ideology" from now on.

President Bush brought in the ban on federal funding for the use of research on embryonic stem cells in 2001. Supported by the religious right, the then President ruled that the procedure was morally wrong.

Opponents to the research object on the grounds that embryos - the early stages of potential life -are destroyed in a bid to obtain stem cells.

But scientists believe that master cells can be used to form the basis of therapies for a number of illnesses and conditions such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's and spinal cord injury.

High-profile supporters of research in the US include Nancy Reagan, whose husband, former President Ronald Reagan, suffered from Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's sufferer Michael J Fox.

The late actor Christopher Reeve, who was paralysed in an accident, campaigned for the ban to be overturned up until his death in 2004.

Mr Obama said that he wished that the Superman actor was alive today to see the ban revoked.

He said that Mr Reeve dreamed of being able to walk again, adding "Christopher did not get that chance. But if we pursue this research, maybe one day - maybe not in our lifetime, or even in our children's lifetime - but maybe one day, others like him might."

The ban on federal cash for research has, the scientific community has long argued, hampered efforts in the US to find cures and therapies to many conditions. …

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