Oklahoma Lawmakers Debate Stem Cell Research - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Oklahoma Lawmakers Debate Stem Cell Research

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Representative Enns injured his spine in 2004, making stem cell research a personal issue. Representative Enns injured his spine in 2004, making stem cell research a personal issue.
Research continues into the use of adult stem cells. Research continues into the use of adult stem cells.

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- President Barack Obama cleared the way for a major increase in the amount of federal money used for embryonic stem cell research.

In Oklahoma, a measure is making its way through the legislature requesting funding for research, which doesn't require embryos.

A state lawmaker wants to use interest from the tobacco settlement dollars to further explore the medical benefits of adult stem cell research. A joint resolution on that measure is slated for a vote Tuesday.

That resolution was drafted in part by Representative John Enns (R-District 41). For years, he taught microbiology, becoming familiar with adult stem cell research, but the research became personal in 2004 when he suffered a spinal cord injury.

"A lot of people are coming back from the war and they have spinal cord injuries and this is something that could definitely benefit them," Representative Enns said.

Representative Enns wants to use 10 percent of the interest from tobacco settlement money now estimated at $1.5 million to fund that research, which he said doesn't have the ethical issues associated with embryonic stem cells.

"Embryonic uses part of the embryo and there are adult stem cells which uses no part of the embryo," Representative Enns said. "It uses stem cells from your own body."

Dr. Ewert said the use of adult stem cells is lost in the coverage of the stem cells.

"It's unique in many ways because it's using your own cells to regenerate tissue and repair tissue in your body," Dr. Ewert said.

Dr. Ewert said embryonic stem cells don't hold the same promise.

"The impression is that embryonic stem cells are going to be the cure-all of these diseases when in fact the adult stem cells are the curses that are being implemented currently," Dr. Ewert said.

The joint resolution making its way through the state legislature is receiving bipartisan support and Representative Enns believes the measure could create a new industry in Oklahoma.

"If we can get new entities within the state to do adult stem cell research, obviously it would be a boom to the economy," Representative Enns said.

If this measure clears the house Tuesday and later the senate, it will head to the public for a vote in the general election.

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