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National Multiple Sclerosis Society Commends President Obama's Initial Steps in Removing the Bans on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

NEW YORK, March 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a driving force in creating a world free of MS. To advance this goal, the Society continues to seek ways to prevent, slow the progression or repair the effects of MS. One channel is by supporting scientifically meritorious medical research, including research using human cells. This is done in accordance with federal, state and local laws and with adherence to the strictest ethical and procedural guidelines. For the past eight years, federal policies have impeded these efforts by severely limiting the number of approved embryonic stem cell lines that could be used in federally funded research and prohibiting the donation of unused embryos for research purposes by people utilizing the services of in vitro fertilization clinics.

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President Obama has taken a major step in removing the barriers to a promising path of responsible scientific research and the Society commends him for the new hope and optimism he brings to the millions of people living with chronic and debilitating diseases or disabilities.

Says Weyman T. Johnson, Jr., Chair, National MS Society's board of directors:

"As an MS advocate and someone living with the disease, I applaud President Obama's actions. The lifting of the ban on embryonic stem cell research now allows our best scientific minds the opportunity to pursue all avenues that can speed more effective treatments and we hope, eventually, find a cure for the over 400,000 people in America living with MS."

Adds Dr. John Richert, Executive Vice President for Research and Clinical Programs, National MS Society:

"The National MS Society believes that all promising avenues that could lead to the cure or prevention of MS, or relieve its symptoms by repairing MS damage, must be explored - including expanding the number of stem cell lines that are available for federally funded research. President Obama's actions to alleviate restrictions on the use of embryonic stem cells represent an important step that will allow us to move forward with greater speed and effectiveness in exploring potential new areas for treatment, not only for MS but for many chronic diseases."

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and over 2.1 million worldwide.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

MS stops people from moving. The National MS Society exists to make sure it doesn't. We help each person address the challenges of living with MS. In 2007 alone, through our home office and 50 state network of chapters, we devoted over $136 million to programs that enhanced more than one million lives. To move us closer to a world free of MS, the Society also invested over $50 million to support 440 research projects around the world. We are people who want to do something about MS NOW. Join the movement at

SOURCE National Multiple Sclerosis Society
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