Friday, November 10, 2006

Veto-proof Senate as to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research?

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle suggests that an "ethical cloud" had hampered investment in stem cell research:

But Michael West of ACT said the primary benefit [of the Nov. 7 election results] would be to lift the shadow of controversy that has made some venture capital firms and pharmaceutical giants reluctant to invest in stem cell programs.

"That could be the kind of thing that removes this kind of ethical cloud over the industry,'' West said.

Academic labs license their discoveries to biotech companies, which often form partnerships with big drug companies to bring their treatments to market.

President Bush in August 2001 acted to prevent federal funds from being used to create new stem cell lines through the destruction of early-stage human embryos, a process he compared to killing a child.

He confined federal research grants to work on adult stem cells and embryonic stem cell lines that had been created before his decree. That year, the House approved legislation that would have criminalized embryonic stem cell research.


With Tuesday's [Nov. 7, 2006] overthrow of the Republican majority, stem cell advocates are now calculating whether they have the two-thirds majority vote needed to override a veto.

"Based on their known positions, we have a veto-proof Senate," said Robert Klein, who spearheaded the 2004 Proposition 71 initiative campaign that established California's $3 billion stem cell research program. "The challenge will be the House, where we need about 35 votes on the Republican side."

Whether "ethics" is the major barrier to investment in embryonic stem cell research by venture capital firms remains to be seen.



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