Support Stem Cell Research Today!
President Obama has indicated that he plans to reverse the current federal policy that restricts funding for embryonic stem cell research. As you know, that policy states that federal funds can only be used to support embryonic stem cell research that utilizes stem cell lines derived prior to August 9, 2001.
Swift action by President Obama will remove this restriction and enable the ALS research community to fully pursue the promise stem cells hold for advancing our understanding of ALS as well as identifying biomarkers and new treatments for the disease. This is especially important in the wake of the recently enacted economic stimulus plan, which provides an additional $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health. In fact, Dr. Story Landis, the Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and head of the NIH Stem Cell Task Force, has indicated that the NIH is prepared to hit the ground running once the restrictions are lifted, saying "We want to be able to move as quickly as possible... The science is waiting."
While there have been no indications that the President will not act, we believe there is no reason for continued delay or to wait for Congress to act. Indeed, less than a month ago, the FDA approved the first ever clinical trial involving embryonic stem cells. This trial, which is for the treatment of spinal cord injuries, demonstrates that the time to act is now!
Earlier this month, the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, of which The ALS Association is an active member, sent a letter to President Obama urging him to quickly to lift the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research (a copy of the letter is available here). In addition, a group of Republican Members of Congress has sent a letter to the President (click here).
We also encourage you to contact the President and ask him to enable this important research to move forward. Again, while there are no indications that the President will not follow through on his commitment, it is important that he know that people with ALS do not have time to wait. We need to ensure that the ALS research community can pursue every opportunity to find a treatment and cure as soon as possible.