DeGette, Dent Introduce Updated Version Of Bill to Codify Stem Cell Study Oversight

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Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) June 24 introduced a measure (H.R. 2376) to establish an ethical framework for oversight of embryonic and adult stem cell research funded by the National Institutes of Health.

According to a June 27 statement, the proposed Stem Cell Research Advancement Act would bring certainty to the scientific community pursuing lifesaving cures and treatments using the technology. The legislation would put into statute a framework to ensure such critical research can be conducted unimpeded by political interference, DeGette said in the statement.

H.R. 2376 would support embryonic stem cell research and codify NIH's guidelines for carrying out both embryonic and adult human stem cell research. It also would require NIH to review its guidelines at least every three years and make periodic updates as scientifically warranted.

The ethical requirements defined by the bill would mandate that stem cells be derived from human embryos donated from in vitro fertilization clinics that were created for reproductive purposes, but are in excess of clinical needs. The donated embryos would never be implanted in a woman, and otherwise would be discarded. The individuals who had sought reproductive treatment to begin with would have to donate the embryos with written informed consent and without any financial or other inducements.

The legislation also specifically would prohibit the use of federal funding for human cloning, in keeping with the NIH guidelines.

Several years have passed since the original Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, drafted by DeGette and former Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), was passed and twice vetoed by then-President George W. Bush. During that time, according to the statement, the field of human stem cell research has progressed steadily.

The representatives said H.R. 2376 has been updated to keep current with the expanding field of stem cell research and responds to calls on Congress to provide lasting support to this field of research.

Full text of H.R. 2376 is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.2376 :.