Brownback signs into law bill establishing adult stem cell research and treatment at KU Medical Center

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

In a mix of science and anti-abortion politics, Gov. Sam Brownback on Monday signed into law a bill that establishes the nation's first adult stem cell research and treatment center at the Kansas University Medical Center.

"I am honored to sign this bill of hope and promise and current treatments," Brownback said.

Brownback described adult stem cell and umbilical cord blood research as an "exploding" area of new discoveries to treat people with a wide range of diseases. "KU will be the leader, Kansas will be the leader, which is fabulous in this burgeoning field," he said.

But the bill carried political overtones.

It was sponsored by vehement abortion opponents and pushed by the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobbying group.

In addition, KU never asked for the legislation establishing what will be known as the Midwest Stem Cell Center, and the Legislature has yet to produce the estimated $1.1 million needed for the center's startup.

The center is prohibited from using embryonic stem cells or cells taken from aborted fetal tissue. Abortion opponents oppose human embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of the embryo.

Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn, director of the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases at KU Medical Center, was the only KU representative on hand at the bill-signing ceremony. He said the number of clinical trials of bone marrow stem cells for treatment of heart disease had been increasing tremendously over the past several years.

"It would be great to bring such therapies to Kansas, and the formation of such a center which would engage in adult stem cell therapy in patients would give Kansans the chance to be enrolled in such therapy and perhaps give treatment that would change their life," he said.

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Brownback signs into law bill establishing adult stem cell research and treatment at KU Medical Center

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