Posted: May 19, 2003


Delaware Congressman Michael N. Castle called on President Bush to revisit the current federal policy regarding human stem cell research.  While speaking Friday to the Biotechnology Industry Executive Forum at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, Congressman Castle detailed a letter he has sent to the White House regarding his concerns with the current restrictions placed on this important research.

Congressman Castle said, "It is my belief that we should do everything in our power to pursue treatments and cures that hold hope for countless Americans.  Stem cells have incredible potential to treat, cure, and prevent any number of diseases and disorders.  I believe it is time that we reevaluate the current restrictions placed on the federal stem cell policy."

In April, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) testified before Congress that of the 78 stem cell lines originally identified as eligible for federal funding, only 11 are actually available to doctors and scientists at this point.  The remaining lines are unavailable or unsuitable for research.  These 11 stem cell lines have all been exposed to mouse feeder cells, which may pose serious contamination issues in their future transfer to human cells.  Some researchers have indicated that none of the 11 existing stem cell lines should be used in humans because of the possibility of spreading infectious agents from mice to humans.

"It is my belief that we must have a national policy that allows these important research discoveries to move forward without handcuffing our scientists," said Congressman Castle.  "I am asking the President to review the current federal stem cell policy to determine whether there are enough stem cell lines available for the research community, and whether changes should be made to allow for the creation of new, sterile, uncontaminated stem cell lines."

Congressman Castle added, "Recent scientific breakthroughs are too important to the development of this potentially life-saving research.  The federal government should thoroughly review and assess the current stem cell policy."

The Congressman's letter is cosigned by ten other Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives.