David A. Prentice, Ph.D.

TO:  Sen. David Shafer
FROM:  Dr. David A. Prentice, Ph.D.
RE:  Georgia Senate Bill 148, Saving the Cure Act

I am writing in support of Georgia Senate Bill 148, Saving the Cure Act, a bill that would provide for an umbilical cord blood bank for Georgia and encourage medical research with stem cells not derived from destructive processes.

I am a cell biologist, currently working for a bioethics center in Washington, D.C.  For the previous 20 years I was Professor of Life Sciences at Indiana State University and Adjunct Professor of Medical and Molecular Genetics at Indiana University School of Medicine, and I have done federally-funded laboratory research, lectured and advised on these subjects extensively, in the U.S. and internationally.  I was selected by the President’s Council on Bioethics to write the comprehensive review of adult stem cell research for the Council’s 2004 publication “Monitoring Stem Cell Research.”  The President’s Council, the Administration and Members of Congress routinely consult me regarding the scientific facts of stem cell research.

The published scientific evidence clearly shows that despite the emotional hyperbole surrounding the supposed “promise” of embryonic stem cells and “therapeutic” cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer, SCNT), there is little hard evidence that these research avenues will be useful in treating for patients for damaged and diseased tissue.  These cells have resulted in poor results in animal studies, and because they have not been shown safe or effective, zero treatment for patients.

In contrast, non-embryonic cells (adult cells that are present in the body from the time of birth, as well as abundant in umbilical cord blood, placenta and amniotic fluid), show the true promise of repairing damaged tissue and regenerating organs.  The adult/cord blood stem cells have successfully treated animal models of disease including diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, and retinal degeneration.  Moreover, every medical advance regarding patients using stem cells has come from non-embryonic stem cells.  Adult stem cells have already provided clinical benefit to human patients for over 70 conditions.  It is tragic that postnatal tissues such as umbilical cord blood and placenta are treated as medical waste.  These tissues are especially rich in stem cells, and have already shown their utility to treat patients and for scientific research.

The tissue bank created by SB 148 is wisely constructed, not only to benefit the citizen of Georgia, but also to attract federal funding.  I strongly encourage the Legislature of Georgia to pass SB 148, Saving the Cure Act.