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October 23, 2009

Why Germany is REALLY ahead in stem cell treatments

A husband and wife pair in western Washington state are trying to raise money for him to go to Germany for a stem cell transplant for his failing heart. Erik and Jenn Gelhar have already raised $40,000 of the $100,000 they need to get him to Germany for the treatment at XCELL Centre in Dusseldorf Germany.

So why does an American have to travel to Germany to get such a treatment? Why are they farther ahead than the United States in adult stem cell treatments for heart disease? According to this article that quotes Dr. Charles Murray of University of Washington, it is because of Bush's funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and cloning:

Erik Gelhar is unable to get treatment in the United States because they are not as advanced as Germany in stem cell research. Germany has cutting edge technology and the people's view about stem cell therapy is different, Jenn Gelhar said.

Dr. Charles Murry, co-director at the University of Washington's Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, said the U.S. is still in the early stages of stem cell research. He said the ban that the Bush administration put on federal funding for the research slowed down the progression since it was a controversial and political issue.


Actually, Germany did one better than President Bush's funding ban and has OUTLAWED embryo destructive research and cloning all together. Germany does not fund such research at all because it is illegal to create or use embryos for research. The German Act for the Protection of Embryos states:

1. Anyone who disposes of, or hands over or acquires or uses for a purpose not serving its preservation, a human embryo produced outside the body, or removed from a woman before the completion of implantation in the uterus, will be punished with imprisonment of up to three years or a fine.

2. Likewise, anyone will be punished who causes a human embryo to develop further outside the body for any purpose other than bringing about of a pregnancy.

The reason Germans are so far ahead in adult stem cell treatments is because they don't waste time or money on stem cell research that does not now, and may never, treat patients i.e. embryonic stem cell research and cloning. (Imagine where the United States would be if millions of dollars that are spent on embryo destructive research were put into adult stem cell research instead.)

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