Monday, May 17, 2004

Stem cell research is moving ahead

WASHINGTON -- The director of the National Institutes of Health, in a letter released over the weekend, told more than 200 members of Congress that stem cell research is advancing in the United States, but remains within the guidelines President Bush announced in 2001.

"We are making good progress in meeting the potential of this exciting new field of science," NIH director Elias Zerhouni wrote. But he acknowledged that "from a purely scientific perspective more cell lines may well speed some areas of human embryonic stem cell research."

That one phrase sparked hope in the increasingly aggressive movement to expand federal embryonic stem cell studies. Researchers think the cells hold the key to breakthroughs in a wide variety of ailments, including spinal cord injury, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes.