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R!A ACTION ALERT (5/6/02): RE: BILL (S.2439)

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    R!A ACTION ALERT (5/6/02): RE: BILL (S.2439)

    (Thanks Bill!)

    JUST DO IT!!!!!!

    Research!America Action Alert (5/6/02)

    (Spread the word -- Don't forget to send this alert to your family, friends and colleagues!)

    The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the issue of "cloning" during the month of May and it is critical that your senators hear from you. Approximately 20 senators are still undecided about whether or not to allow DNA therapies/therapeutic cloning.

    A new bill, "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2002" (S.2439), sponsored by Senators Specter (R-PA), Feinstein (D-CA), Hatch (R-UT), Kennedy (D-MA), Harkin (D-IA), Miller (D-GA), Boxer (D-CA), Corzine (D-NJ), Mikulski (D-MD), Clinton (D-NY), Durbin (D-IL), and Thurmond (R-SC) will allow DNA therapies such as nuclear transplantation/somatic cell nuclear transfer, also referred to as therapeutic cloning, while imposing a complete ban on reproductive cloning. The opposition bill (S.1899) sponsored by Senator Brownback (R-KS) would ban all forms of "cloning", including important technologies used for research such as therapeutic cloning. (For more information, please see the attached background summary.)

    It is critical that advocates of DNA therapies/therapeutic cloning make their voices heard now! Opponents to research have been effective by generating large volumes of mail and other forms of outreach to senators in support of the Brownback bill (S.1899). Please help your senators do the right thing by asking them to support the Specter/Feinstein bill (S.2439). Call, fax and email their offices with the unified message -- "Don't Deny Hope". Let them know that the majority of American citizens support advances in health and medical research to discover new treatments and even cures for chronic conditions like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, cancer, spinal cord injuries and more.

    The most effective way to reach your senators is to call their offices directly and express your support for DNA therapies to a staff member. All of your senators' contact information, including phone number, can be found online at In addition, a form letter for sending to members of the Senate is included with this alert and can be personalized and faxed, or sent via e-mail from Research!America's web site, located at Click on the "Action Alert" and follow the instructions.

    Making a call or sending an email to your Senator in support of therapeutic cloning research will only take a couple of minutes, but the impact of your action could mean new treatments and cures for diseases and disabilities that could benefit your children and grandchildren for many years to come.

    ************************************************** **********************
    SAMPLE SENATE LETTER - Support DNA Therapies

    Date ____________

    The Honorable __________________
    United States Senate
    Washington, D.C. 20510

    Dear Senator _______________:

    I strongly urge you to support the "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2002" (S.2439) sponsored by Senators Specter, Feinstein, Hatch and Kennedy . This bill would ban human cloning, but allow DNA therapies for human diseases and disabilities, also known as "therapeutic cloning," "somatic cell nuclear transfer" or "regenerative medicine". DNA therapies have the potential to improve the lives of those who suffer from devastating diseases and disabilities, including diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, cancer and spinal cord injury, to name just a few. Given the scientific potential in this area, I strongly oppose any legislative action that would ban research related to DNA therapies, and I ask that you oppose the bill sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback (S.1899).

    Millions of patients and their families have voiced support for DNA therapies and are hopeful that the U.S. Senate will protect their future health by voting in favor of S.2439. Patient groups who support DNA therapies include the American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, Parkinson's Action Network, Alliance for Aging Research, Tourette Syndrome Association, National Council on Spinal Cord Injury and many more.

    Our nation's leading scientists, scientific organizations and universities support research DNA therapies. These include 40 American recipients of the Nobel prize for medical research, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the American Association of Universities (AAU), the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), and the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR).

    A number of countries including Great Britain, Japan, France, Canada, Germany and Australia have formulated national policies that would allow their scientists to explore the life-saving potential of DNA therapies. Polls conducted by Research!America show that more than 85 percent of Americans say it is very important that the U.S. maintains its role as a world leader in medical and health research. Constraining scientific opportunity by halting research would threaten this leadership.

    I ask for your support of the Specter/Feinstein/Hatch/Kennedy bill (S.2439) because it will ensure that DNA therapeutic research technologies are available to American scientists in their search for future treatments and cures.

    Please provide hope to all those who suffer from disease and disability by supporting the new science of regenerative medicine. The men, women and children who suffer from life-threatening diseases are engaged in a race against time. It is our responsibility to be sure that they benefit from the very best that medical research has to offer.

    Thank you for your support.


    ************************************************** **********************
    DNA Therapies Backgrounder

    The U.S. Senate is currently debating the benefits of DNA therapies for human diseases and disabilities**, also known as therapeutic cloning, somatic cell nuclear transfer, nuclear transplantation or regenerative medicine. A new bill (S.2439) sponsored by Senators Specter (R-PA), Feinstein (D-CA), Hatch (R-UT), Kennedy (D-MA), Harkin (D-IA), Miller (D-GA), Boxer (D-CA), Corzine (D-NJ), Mikulski (D-MD), Clinton (D-NY), Durbin (D-IL), and Thurmond (R-SC) will allow the use of DNA therapeutic technologies to make stem cells. Another bill (S.1899) sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) would ban all avenues of research in this area. Both bills would make it illegal to attempt to clone a human being.

    Last fall, the United States House of Representatives passed legislation (H.R.2505) that mandates a ban on research "therapeutic" cloning for making stem cells and for the purposes of creating "reproductive" a human being. The Brownback bill (S.1899) is based on the bill passed by the House.

    The debate in the Senate will determine whether research into DNA therapies should be legal in the United States, not whether to ban the cloning of a human being. The National Academy of Sciences, numerous scientific societies and patient advocacy groups agree that there should be a ban on human cloning, but that research exploring DNA therapies should be pursued.

    The promise of this research is overwhelmingly supported by patient advocates, basic science organizations and physician's groups. Research!America supports DNA therapies and the hope that all research provides to patients with Parkinson's disease, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and many other presently incurable conditions. Please contact your senator by phone, fax, or email and support medical progress.

    **DNA therapies for human diseases and disabilities is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of technologies that can produce stem cells. For example: DNA from a somatic cell (eg. skin cell) of a potential patient is transplanted into an enucleated egg cell by nuclear transplantation. More simply put - DNA from a person is removed from their cells and put into a donor egg cell that no longer has its original DNA (genetic material). The egg cell is then electrically stimulated to divide and allowed to grow for a few days. By that time about 40-50 stem cells have been produced and can be selectively removed from a larger cluster of cells referred to as a blastocyst. A blastocyst is not visible to the naked eye, therefore it is necessary to use a microscope to successfully remove the stem cells.

    Stem cells at this early stage of development are undifferentiated. That means that the cells have not yet become specific cell types such as nerve cells, muscle tissue, bone cells, etc. Researchers are learning more every day about how to coax stem cells along specific differentiation pathways so that stem cells in the lab can become replacement cells for any cell in the human body. The goal is for patients to provide their own transplant materials and avoid the rejection problems experienced with present transplant technologies.

    Another important aspect of DNA therapies is the opportunity it provides for researchers to study the mechanisms underlying disease. For example, making stem cells with the DNA of a child with Down's Syndrome will let scientists explore the reasons for Down's Syndrome. Armed with information from many different studies, scientists can then put the pieces of the puzzle back together and find ways to prevent, treat and possibly even cure the disease.

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    Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.