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Impact of Stem Cell Ruling

DRINewsUpdate


August 26, 2010
 
  DRI Committed to Stem Cell Research -- With or Without Federal Support

(August 26, 2010 – Miami, FL) -- Stem cell research at the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) should not be dramatically impacted by a federal judge’s ruling striking down the Obama administration’s policy, according to leading scientists at the DRI.

On Monday, a U.S. District Judge in the District of Columbia voided the administration's executive order to expand embryonic stem cell research, saying it was in conflict with federal law against destroying embryos.
 

But the ruling does not impact stem cell research funded by private sources. Historically, the DRI has relied on private support for its stem cell program, rather than funding from the federal government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Most of that private support has come from the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation (DRIF).

"The DRI Foundation began funding the stem cell program in 2001 when there was no funding from NIH, and we will continue to do so," said Robert A. Pearlman, president and CEO of the DRIF.

"It would be a terrific boost to research everywhere if the NIH would fund this work," Pearlman said. "But the DRI Foundation is committed to doing whatever it takes and to pursue all options to make sure this continues."

Recently, the DRI had begun to apply for, and receive, grants from the NIH for embryonic stem cell research, according to Juan Dominguez-Bendala, Ph.D., director of Stem Cell Development for Translational Research at the DRI.

“Although this ruling may be interpreted as a setback that will require some re-adjusting, we have been operating under somewhat similar conditions for eight years and know the drill already,” Dominguez-Bendala said.

“The DRI will remain at the forefront of this important research whether it is with federal support or not,” he said.

In recent years, the DRI’s stem cell research has extended beyond embryonic stem cells to include adult stem cells and other types.

The DRI’s Scientific Director, Camillo Ricordi, M.D., says, “We work with all kinds of stem cells and we are transferring what we learn from embryonic stem cell research to adult stem cells, iPS* and tissue reprogramming so eventually embryonic stem cells may not be as crucial as they are now for the progress of the field and for the development of new cures.”

*iPS = induced Pluripotent Stem cells. These are adult stem cells that have been “reprogrammed” with new information to enable the cells to perform a new function.

 
Juan Dominguez-Bendala, Ph.D., is the DRI's Director of Stem Cell Development for Translational Research

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