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Stem Cell


When the Missouri legislative session begins in January, embryonic stem cell research will be a key issue.

K-S-M-U is bringing you two perspectives on the debate...tomorrow we'll hear from the president of the Stowers Institute in Kansas City where they are conducting animal embryonic stem cell research.

But today, K-S-M-U's Katie Hummel brings you a man who is both scientist and lobbyst - a man working against human embryonic stem cell research.

SOME PEOPLE CALL IT THE NEW ROE VERSUS WADE.

AND INDEED, SOME ANTI-ABORTION GROUPS HAVE TAKEN STRONG POSITIONS AGAINST EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH.

DAVID PRENTICE IS SENIOR FELLOW FOR LIFE SCIENCES AT THE FAMILY RESEARCH COUNSEL IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

HE WAS IN MISSOURI RECENTLY GIVING STATE LAWMAKERS A PRESENTATION ON EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH.

HE SAYS THE SCIENTIFIC ASPECT OF STEM CELL RESEARCH, IN GENERAL, HAS BECOME A CONFUSING SUBJECT.

PRENTICE WAS ALSO A PROFESSOR OF LIFE SCIENCES AT INDIANA STATE UNIVERSITY FOR TWENTY YEARS WHERE HE TAUGHT CELL AND BIOLOGY DEVELOPMENT.

HE SAYS IN HIS ESTIMATION, SCIENTISTS ARE DIVIDED WHEN IT COMES TO THE ETHICS SURROUNDING EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH.

HE IS A SCIENTIST WHO OPPOSES IT.

EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS COME FROM THE INNER CELL MASS OF A HUMAN EMBRYO.

SOME SCIENTISTS BELIEVE THE CELL IS LIKE A BLANK SLATE : A CELL TYPE THAT MAY HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO DEVELOP INTO ANY OR NEARLY ALL OF THE TISSUES IN THE HUMAN BODY.

BECAUSE THIS CELL IS BLANK, MANY SCIENTISTS BELIEVE THAT IT COULD BE USED TO TREAT ANYTHING FROM PARKINSON'S DISEASE, TO DIABETES, AND COULD EVEN ALLOW PARAPELIGICS TO WALK AGAIN.

BUT PRENTICE SAYS, WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO IT, THE POTENTIAL FOR EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS ISN'T VERY IMPRESSIVE.

SO, PRENTICE SAYS HIS MAIN REASONS FOR OPPOSING THIS TYPE OF RESEARCH ARE SCIENTIFIC ONES.

BUT HE SAYS HE DOES RECOGNIZE THE ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS.

BUT PRENTICE IS STILL A MAN OF SCIENCE : A PROFESSOR OF CELL AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY NO LESS.

SO PRENTICE SAYS HE STRONGLY BELIEVES IN THE OTHER TYPE OF STEM CELL RESEARCH : ADULT STEM CELL THERAPY.

THIS EXPLOSION AS PRENTICE CALLS IT, RESULTED IN NEW INFORMATION SUGGESTING THAT ADULT STEM CELLS MAY HAVE BLANK SLATE CAPABITLITIES, AS WELL.

SO PRENTICE WILL CONTINUE FIGHTING AGAINST ONE TYPE OF STEM CELL RESEARCH WHILE, AT THE SAME TIME, FIGHTING FOR ANOTHER.

BUT THE FIGHT IN MISSOURI'S LEGISLATURE HAS JUST BEGUN.

LAWMAKERS LIKELY WILL DEBATE A BAN ON EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH.

AND ONE OF THE ORGANIZATIONS THAT WILL BE WATCHING THE DEBATE CLOSELY IS THE STOWERS INSTITUTE - A STEM CELL RESEARCH FACILITY IN KANSAS CITY.

TOMORROW, WE'LL HAVE MORE ON THE POSITION OF THE STOWERS INSTITUTE.