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Scientists applaud Italian stem cell shift

In an open letter to the President and Ministers of Italy, leading stem cell researchers have congratulated the Italian government on its decision to pull out of a 'declaration of ethics' that objects to the use of EU funds for human embryonic stem call research. The letter, ...

In an open letter to the President and Ministers of Italy, leading stem cell researchers have congratulated the Italian government on its decision to pull out of a 'declaration of ethics' that objects to the use of EU funds for human embryonic stem call research. The letter, signed by the heads of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and the European Consortium for Stem Cell Research (EuroStemCell), applauds Italy's 'honourable decision' that removes a significant barrier to the freedom of scientific research and medical advancement in the European Union. The letter goes on to point out, 'Europe has made major historical contributions in the field of fundamental stem cell research and is well-positioned to translate this knowledge to the clinic and develop future treatments for human disease.' Last year, Italy's previous government, along with a number of other countries, signed a declaration calling on the EU to exclude research projects involving human embryos and human embryonic stem cells from financing under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), and to concentrate joint EU efforts in stem cell research on projects where ethical consensus exists. Earlier this month, the new Italian Research Minister, Fabio Mussi, withdrew his country's signature from the document. Eurostemcell, a consortium of 14 partners in eight countries, is funded under the EU's Sixth Framework Programme to the tune of EUR 11.9 million for its four year duration. As Members of the European Parliament prepare to vote on the EU's research policies, the World Congress for Freedom of Scientific Research presented MEPs in Strasbourg with a petition supporting the use of EU funding for research on embryonic stem cells (including nuclear transfer). The petition has been signed by scientists and Nobel laureates from Europe and all over the world.

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