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!