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Crucial research threatened.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Democrats Senator for South Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Science and Research

Dated: 07 August 2005 Press Release Number: 05/393 Portfolio: Science and Research

Crucial Research Threatened

The progress of Australian researchers in understanding how stem cells can be used to combat disease may be jeopardised by inadequate funding and conservative laws, according to the Australian Democrats.

Democrats Science and Biotechnology Spokesperson Senator Natasha Stott Despoja used an address to the Diabetes Transplant Unit (DTU) Annual Dinner last night to congratulate the DTU on its advances, but warn that funding cuts and restrictive legislation could hamper further success.

The Federal Government's recent funding cuts to cord banks suggest a reluctance to support any kind of stem cell research, even if the stem cells are provided from a non-contentious source," Senator Stott Despoja said.

Australia's laws governing stem cell research and cloning, which currently ban therapeutic cloning for research purposes, are under review.

"I am hopeful that this review will progress our stem cell research legislation, to allow therapeutic cloning," Senator Stott Despoja said.

"We do not want to see Australia, a world leader in health research, fall behind in this revolutionary field that promises so much.

Even the Republican Senate Majority Leader in the US, Senator Bill Frist, has had a change of heart on using left over IVF embryos for stem cell research. Mr Frist recently opposed President Bush by endorsing the expansion of federally-funded embryonic stem cell research.

Organisations like the Diabetes Transplant Unit have demonstrated the potential of stem cells in conquering diseases like diabetes, which afflicts around one million Australians.

If Australia is to stay at the forefront of stem cell research, offering hope to those afflicted by disease, it must adequately fund research - including that for cord banks - as well as update its laws in relation to stem cell research, Senator Stott Despoja said.

Printed: 8 August 2005

Authorised by: J. Wood, 711 South Road, Black Forest, SA 5035.