Bartle remains positive on adult stem cell bills
By Barbara Shoun
April 18, 2006
JEFFERSON CITY – Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit, has proposed legislation to make use of tobacco settlement money to research the life-saving possibilities of adult stem cells.
Senate Bill 774 involves funds that are to be received from companies that have been added to the tobacco settlement since the initial agreement. It would require that 25 percent of these funds be diverted for research on stem cells that are not derived from embryos or unborn fetuses.
“We hope we can encourage ethical stem cell research,” said Bartle, noting that many popular proposals involve the use of embryonic stem cells, a human cloning technique that destroys human embryos.
Kerry Messer, lobbyist for the Christian Life Commission (CLC) of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), would like to see passage of SB 774. “We, as a state, should be encouraging research on adult stem cells,” Messer said. “The vast majority are being tossed into incinerators.”
Embryonic stem cells are defined as those that exist in the earliest days of pregnancy, before they have developed to the point of a specific function. Within weeks, they take on the characteristics of heart, lung and other tissue. At that point, they are defined as adult stem cells.
Bartle would like to see the medical community further explore the value of adult stem cells, which are already being used in a number of medical treatments. A ready source would be umbilical cord blood.
“We want to encourage research that uses the incredible power of adult stem cells, which are found all over the body, particularly in the umbilical cord,” the state senator said. “Blood in the umbilical cord is rich in stem cells.”
Messer said adult stem cells hold the same promise as embryonic stem cells, but without the moral objections.
According to SB 774, one-fourth of the funds collected would be used to establish and expand umbilical cord blood banks and three-fourths would be used for research. The Life Sciences Research Board would administer the money.
At present, the only public blood bank in the state is the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. The blood bank serves a radius of approximately 100 miles, but it receives more donations from Illinois than from Missouri.
That’s because Illinois has a law requiring health care providers to invite new mothers to donate their cord blood, Messer explained. Donations are voluntary.
Bartle expects his bill to be voted out of committee with a recommendation for passage. He said a companion bill in the House of Representatives seems to be going well.
House Bill 1534 is identical to SB774 and is sponsored by Rep. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis. It was passed out of committee with a recommendation for approval and is awaiting a vote by the full House.
Another bill making its way through the House of Representatives would provide support for the blood bank/research program proposed by Bartle and Lembke.
Rep. Darrell Pollock, R-Lebanon, has filed House Bill 2117, which would make information available to new mothers on how to donate umbilical cord blood, if they so desire.
Pollock’s bill would direct the establishment of an umbilical cord blood bank program to gather umbilical cord blood only from live births and to provide blood components for scientific research.
Under Pollock’s proposed law, the identity of donors would be protected by an identification numbering system, maintained by the Department of Health and Senior Services, which would be the sole means of identifying and tracking the donation.
To protect privacy, researchers would be provided with non-identifying infor