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University of Minnesota's Internationally Recognized Stem Cell Experts Available for Interviews on What Lifting the Federal Funding Restrictions Will Mean to Stem Cell Research and to Patients Who Stand to Benefit
Date:1/29/2009

ing approved human hESC lines could use only about 1 percent of those available." Kaufman is studying the development of normal blood cells and creating populations of "natural killer" white blood cells that specialize in attacking cancer cells or HIV. He has used hESCs from federally approved lines to make natural killer cells, but looks forward to having a wider choice of cells to work with.

Meri Firpo, assistant professor in the Stem Cell Institute in the Department of Medicine and Division of Endocrinology and in the Schulze Diabetes Institute at the University of Minnesota

Firpo works on stem cell biology, and potential transplantation therapies for diabetes using human embryonic stem cells as well as other types of stem cells. If former President Bush's federal funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research are lifted, it will have a major impact, Firpo says. The University of Minnesota's dedication to innovative stem cell research with private funding has made it possible for Firpo to continue developing new embryonic stem cell lines and doing research on those stem cell lines with nongovernmental funds. However, researchers at other institutions have not been as fortunate; their universities haven't provided the infrastructure or support needed to continue. With the funding restrictions lifted, more researchers will be able to share even new stem cell lines. "Being able to share with more people will have a huge impact," she says. Because of the federal funding restrictions, many researchers were hesitant to get into the field of human embryonic stem cells. The national policy change is already impacting the U of M Stem Cell Institute; Enrollment is booming in its NIH-funded course on hESCs. Taught every three months, it is for researchers who want to learn how to grow the cells.


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