WASHINGTON, D.C. – Scientists announced yesterday that they had found cells in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women that have similar characteristics to embryonic stem cells. While these cells hold great promise, stem cell researchers note that they are not a replacement for embryonic stem cells. What the discovery does demonstrate is the potential in basic research on stem cells from various sources. It will take years for other groups to try to reproduce these results and then try to convert them to materials that could be used first in animal models of human disease, then tested in a few people for safety.
We need to press ahead with stem research on all fronts now. We already know how to obtain pluripotent stem cells from embryonic stem cells, including 400,000 spare embryos stored in fertility clinics across the country. Congress needs to give our scientists access to the best tools available in the race for life-saving cures, and can take a wonderful first step this week by passing the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007.