Obama Lifts Stem Cell Curbs
March 9 — President Barack Obama lifted the restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research imposed by the Bush administration since 2001. Cells obtained from human embryos can transform into any type of cell in the body, and scientists believe they may lead to greater knowledge of and possible cures for diseases like diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
The implication for diabetes is significant. Research suggests that it may be possible to convert embryonic stem cells into insulin-producing cells in people with diabetes. "The ethical use of stem cell research holds the promise of accelerating medical advancements in many fields. This brings hope to the nearly 24 million American adults and children with diabetes who face its many complications, including heart disease, amputation, and blindness," said R. Paul Robertson, MD, the American Diabetes Association's president of medicine and science.
In signing the documents, Obama opened the door for scientists to study thousands of stem cells created in the past eight years. President Bush had curbed use of any embryonic stem cells created after August 2001 because he said embryos represent human life that shouldn't be destroyed during research. Obama's executive order will lift this ban, but it doesn't repeal a ban that prevents federal funds from going to researchers who destroy embryos to create stem cells. The president said today that he hoped Congress will remove further restrictions.