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Parkinson's Action Network Applauds Bi-Partisan Congressional Coalition Urging President To Expand Stem Cell Policy

Castle/DeGette/Cunningham/Dooley Letter with 206 Signatures Transmitted to President Bush

(Washington, D.C.) - The Parkinson's Action Network (PAN) today participated in an event in support of an open letter to President Bush urging him to relax the current overbearing restrictions on the promising area of stem cell research. At a press event on Capitol Hill today, a letter, bearing the names of 206 Members of Congress, was released by Representative Michael Castle (R-DE), Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO), Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), and Representative Calvin Dooley (D-CA). The Representative were joined by Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) and Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT), as well as Mary Tyler Moore, the International Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and a broad coalition of other medical and patient advocacy organizations. "This event and this letter send a strong message to the Administration that the current stem cell policy is far too restrictive, and must be revisited," said PAN Executive Director Amy Comstock, who attended the event. "PAN looks forward to continuing our important work with this bi-partisan group, as well as with the 69 members of our Bi-Cameral Caucus and Working Group on Parkinson's Disease. Together, we can ensure that this significant avenue of medical research will become available - and stay available - for scientists across America."

The current Administration policy states that federal funds may only be used for research on embryonic stem cell cultures created prior to August 9, 2001. Under this policy, stem cell lines that qualify for federal funding are not genetically or racially diverse enough to meet research needs. Also, developing future therapies with the current stem cell lines may prove impossible since cell lines cultivated in the past were exposed to mouse "feeder" cells, and may not be acceptable under federal regulations on biological materials drawn from more than one species. Researchers are also hesitant to use these lines for patient therapies when newer, non-contaminated stem cell colonies are being developed beyond the reach of the Administration's policy by private organizations and in other countries.

"As Representative DeGette said earlier today, we must not allow scientists who want to do stem cell research in the United States to take their talents and expertise - and the important research dollars that follow them - to other countries," said Comstock. "Every day that this restrictive policy remains in place is a day lost for science."

Founded in 1991, PAN is the unified education and advocacy voice of the Parkinson's community-over one million Americans and their families.

Through education and interaction with the Parkinson's community, scientists, lawmakers, opinion leaders, and the public, PAN fights for a cure by increasing awareness about Parkinson's disease and seeks increased federal support for Parkinson's research.

For more information on the Parkinson's Action Network, please visit www.parkinsonsaction.org or call 1-800-850-4726.

Click the icon below to view the letter sent to the President and the 206 signatures, or visit our website to view it at www.parkinsonsaction.org/stemcellletter.pdf

SOURCE: Parkinson's Action Network (PAN) www.parkinsonsaction.org

Source Date: Apr 28 2004