A federal district judge’s ruling on Aug. 23 to halt federal funding for embryonic stem cell research will not impact NSU’s stem cell research projects because no embryonic cells are used.
In 2009, President Barack Obama used an executive order to reopen federal funding to all stem cell research after it had been closed by Congress in 1996. U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth ruled in August that it was illegal for the federal government to fund research that resulted in the destruction of human embryos.
Embryonic stem cell research involves embryonic cells being taken from embryos created through in vitro fertilization. Embryonic stem cells contain properties that allow the cells to be morphed into any cell of the body.
The University of California Irvine conducted a test using human embryonic stem cells and found that the cells successfully restored mobility to rats with spinal cord injuries.
The study, which was partly funded by the university and Geron Corporation, a pharmaceutical company, could be the first step in finding a cure for patients who are unable to walk.
Freshman biology major Nichole Evans said using stem cell research for medical purposes is not justifiable.
“If a person doesn’t get to walk, they’re still alive, but destroying a life to do it doesn’t make sense to me,” said Nichole Evans, freshman biology major.
Peter Murray, Ph.D., professor in the department of endodontics at the College of Dentistry Murray, said that NSU does not conduct research with embryonic cells because there is not much practical demand for the research.
“NSU’s stem cell research is focused on triggering the host’s own stem cells to accomplish regeneration. This approach avoids many of the risks of delivering foreign stem cells into a patient,” said Murray.
Instead, NSU conducts research using adult stem cells. Murray said the difference between these cells and embryonic stem cells is that adult stem cells can only restore the organ from which they were taken. For example, teeth stem cells can only turn into teeth cells. Embryonic stem cells can transform into any other cell in the body, he said.
Arlene Campos, freshman legal studies major, believes stem cell research could help many people and it outweighs the destruction of clinically-created embryos.
She said, “I think it’s good if you’re giving someone’s natural ability back by helping them through research.”