Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) announced today that he and Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) have reintroduced the bipartisan Patients First Act, H.R. 2951, a bill to intensify research and human clinical trials using stem cells that are ethically obtained and that show evidence of providing near-term clinical benefit for human patients. The Patients First Act prioritizes funding for promising stem cell research and would not authorize any new spending. Additionally, the legislation would promote the creation of pluripotent stem cell lines without the creation, destruction, or discarding of human embryos.
"The promise of stem cell research provides Americans with both new hopes and fears. As public servants, we have the responsibility to consider both the medical and the ethical implications of the research we support with U.S. tax-dollars, particularly at a time of budgetary constraints. The Patients First Act recognizes that the twin goals of scientific advancement and the protection of human life are not mutually exclusive; rather, they should be one in the same. By setting aside divisive political battles and prioritizing research with proven clinical success, we can finally make long-awaited progress in beating dreaded diseases, from diabetes to breast cancer" said Forbes.
Significant progress that has been made in adult stem cell research, including the successful treatment of spinal cord injury, Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease. Most recently, researchers at the Stanford University of Medicine found that adult stem cells have improved the outcomes for breast cancer patients, including women with metastasized breast cancer that often have few options. D.K. Ludwig, Professor for Clinical Investigation in Cancer Research at the medical school, stated that “It is important to use these findings as a basis for future trials not only for breast cancer, but also other cancers in which autologous transplants are used to enable high-dose chemotherapy.” Another recent study also showed that cultured red blood cells can be grown and injected successfully into human patients in need of a blood transfusion. To focus funding on similar promising research, the Patients First Act would specifically:
- Promote the creation of pluripotent stem cell lines without the creation of human embryos, or the destruction or discarding of, or risk of injury to, human embryos;
- Intensify stem cell research that may result in an improved understanding of, or treatments for, diseases and other adverse health conditions;
- Promote research and human clinical trials using stem cells that are ethically obtained and show evidence of providing clinical benefit for human patients; and,
- Direct the National Institutes of Health to prioritize stem cell research that has the greatest potential for near-term clinical benefits, by directing both basic and clinical research towards what is currently showing benefits in treating patient.
Congressman Forbes and Congressman Lipinski first introduced this legislation in the 111th Congress. The Patients First Act, H.R. 2951, has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The text of the legislation is available here.