Landmark progress was recently made in stem cell research at the University. Last week, University researchers successfully created the first human embryonic stem cell line in the state. This achievement makes the University part of a small group of institutions that have created stem cell lines. Stem cell lines have the potential to help in the search for cures and treatments for diseases and injuries. Along with saving lives, this research could help the state’s economy, so it’s an important field to expand. To further this important work, the University should continue to lead in the field of embryonic stem cell research.

University researchers began their work on the stem cell line in March. According to an Oct. 4 Daily article, the stem cell line will be used for greater understanding of human development. Donated embryos have only been used since a 2008 ballot proposal passed, making it legal for women to donate embryos for stem cell research. Despite progress, the research faces some obstacles: The future of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research is currently uncertain after a U.S. District Court judge banned the funding in August.

The life-saving potential of these developments is amazing. Using this line, researchers have the potential to discover cures for diseases like Huntington’s and Parkinson’s, as well as many others. Stem cells can also be used to help test new pharmaceuticals that could better treat illnesses, and to identify potentially harmful side effects of new drugs. Curing debilitating diseases and making drugs safer will have a broad positive impact. This research needs to be further advanced to make these goals a reality.

The University’s leap forward in stem cell research could also be good news for the state. Progressive, cutting-edge research is crucial to Michigan’s economic improvement. Exciting developments, like the creation of a human embryonic stem cell line, will draw intelligent minds to the state and the University, encouraging the growth of a new industry to diversify the economy.

In spite of the clear benefits of this newly developed stem cell line, federal funding for stem cell research is currently in a state of limbo. Though the U.S. Court of Appeals overruled the District Court’s ban in late October, the federal funding may be ruled unconstitutional once the appeals court makes its final decision. University researchers are concerned that without proper federal funding, they won’t be able to use the stem cell line to its full potential. The U.S. Court of Appeals should immediately address this issue so researchers can continue with their work unimpeded. To prevent similar problems in the future, the federal government should create legislation to protect funding.

University researchers’ accomplishment is an impressive step for the medical community and the state. To put this line to proper use, federal funding must be protected. The University should continue to advance its research in embryonic stem cells to solidify its status as a leader in medical research.

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