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Posts Tagged ‘SB 199’

stem cell patients (2)If cell therapies are indeed becoming the ‘Third Pillar of medicine’ —the title of a symposium today at the University of California at San Francisco—Kansas has positioned itself to become the global clearinghouse of those treatments. Last Friday the legislature passed Senate Bill 199 creating the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center (MSCTC) at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC).

Gov. Sam Brownback, long a champion of non-embryo-destructive stem cell research during his tenure as U.S. Senator for Kansas, is anticipated to sign the legislation soon, along with the Pro-Life Protections Act, House Bill 2253.

SB 199 does not mandate tax funding, although some seed money in the Kansas annual budget is not entirely off the table yet when the legislature returns in May.  But the Center will actively pursue grants from private and public sources. For example, the numerous disease foundations as well as the U.S. military, dealing with thousands of injured veterans, would have a strong interest in donating to this project.

Dr. David Prentice, Adjunct Professor of Molecular Genetics and an international expert on the stem cell topic, has testified annually over the past decade to Kansas lawmakers about adult (non-embryonic) stem cell (ASC) treatments, including that:
•    1 in 200 Americans will undergo an ASC transplant in their lifetime;
•    over 60,000 ASC transplants occur globally each year;
•    there are over 2,600 ongoing, or completed, FDA-approved ASC trials.

As reported yesterday, the Vatican has said that its international conference this week on ethical stem cell research will aim to correct the public misperceptions of the burgeoning scientific field. The Washington Times quoted conference co-sponsor, Dr. Robin Smith,  “Regenerative medicine is poised to revolutionize disease management by finding new ways to boost the body’s ability to heal itself…

“People are dying, literally, who could be treated or cured.”

Even as the MSCTC was touted during debate on SB 199 as expanding cures and treatments that would end suffering for thousands, some Kansas lawmakers opposed it. Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) and Rep. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills) led opposition to this center as ‘meddling’ with university independence. They tried to imply that MSCTC was more pro-life politics than good science.

The real reason was sour grapes—most of these legislators have been on the wrong (and losing) side for a long time.  They and/or their mentors:
•    failed to prevent ethical limitations in the 2004 Kansas Bio-Science Authority Act governing state commerce,
•    failed to achieve embryonic stem cell and cloning initiatives from 2005-2007, and
•    failed to keep tax-funded abortion training at KUMC the past two years.

But pro-lifers won’t hold that grudge when those legislators and their families come to the MSCTC for treatments in the near future!

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Conferees Dr. DAvid PRentice and KFL's lobbyst,jeanne Gawdun

SB 199 conferees, Dr. David Prentice & KFL lobbyist, Jeanne Gawdun

Kansas Senate committees today worked, and passed out favorably, two pro-life measures.

The Senate Judiciary committee passed SB 142 [Civil Rights for the Unborn] and the Senate Public Health and Welfare committee  passed SB 199, to establish the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC).

Support for SB 199 came from KFL, pointing out that in 2006, despite heavy lobbying to support unproductive and unethical embryonic research, the Kansas legislature made the correct decision to support adult stem cell research by

  • enacting legislation to facilitate the recruitment of entities, and encourage strategic partnerships.
  • budgeting $150,000 to fund a KU adult stem cell research project using umbilical cord blood.

Overall the Senate Public Health and Welfare committee heard support for the novel KU Center from a stem cell patient, four doctors /researchers and a representative of KU. In addition, Rockhurst University ethicist John Morris submitted testimony (read it here) explaining the alarming phenomenon of “stem cell tourism”, in which patients travel abroad to obtain unproven treatments from unqualified personnel.

SB 199 conferee Dr. David Prentice has noted, “the Kansas City metropolitan area has become one of the strategic centers in the nation for life sciences.” Umbilical cord blood research is already being done at KU, using a discovery made at K-State (“Wharton’s Jelly”) so there’s no reason to delay establishing a global center here for stem cell treatment, research, and education. (see past posts here and here)

The Senate Judiciary committee passed SB 142, which was part of the 2012 Pro-Life Protections Act passed 88-31 last year in the House. SB 142 would

  • BAN any “wrongful birth/life” lawsuits claiming that the child, in essence, is a ‘damage’;
  • BROADEN civil suits on behalf of wrongful death of an unborn child to be filed throughout gestation, not just after viability.

TAKE ACTION : Both SB 199 and SB 142 are expected to go to the Senate for votes quite quickly to meet the Friday deadline for action on bills originating in each chamber. To contact your senator about either bill, you may use the roster here.

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