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Source: TIME Magazine 17th May 2004

Title: Stem Cell Rebels

Stem-Cell Rebels
By Margot Roosevelt/Los Angeles

Katie Zucker, 16, has sky blue eyes, wild curly hair and a dazzling smile. She is a
champion equestrian and an A student. Her parents are doting, her friends devoted. So
what's not to envy? Well, there's the small rectangular box attached to her belt that
pumps insulin through a tube into her hip. To test her blood, she pricks her finger
seven times a day. "It's scary," she says. "If your blood sugar goes too low, you could
go into a coma." Sometimes at school her eyes swell, and she can't see the blackboard.
She knows that her diabetes can result in kidney failure, amputation and blindness.
But mostly, she says, "I try to think it won't affect me too much in the future."

If there's any hope for a cure for Zucker and more than 1 million other Americans
with Type 1 diabetes, the most debilitating form of the disease, it may lie in a
revolutionary new field of research based on manipulating human embryonic stem
cells. These building blocks of life, when isolated in a microscopic cluster of cells,
can morph into any kind of tissue. (So-called adult stem cells, which can be harvested
without sacrificing embryos, can turn into only a few tissue types.) One day, scientists
hope, the entire genetic makeup of a patient like Zucker could be transferred into a
cloned human egg that can produce the insulin-producing cells her body lacks.

But some religious groups believe the clumps of 100 to 200 cells from which
embryonic stem cells are taken represent a potential human life as worthy of
protection as any child's. Three years ago, President George W. Bush, under pressure
from both sides, adopted a compromise that ended up choking off most federal
research funds to the field. He said at the time that although the research offered
"great promise" in saving lives, it could lead to "growing human beings for spare body
parts."

Today a brush-fire challenge to Bush's stem-cell policy is spreading across the U.S.,
fueled by the frustration of such families as Zucker's who have allied themselves with
patient activists for other diseases, major universities, several state legislatures and
members of Congress. Last month 206 U.S. Representatives wrote to the President,
calling on him to fund stem-cell research on spare embryos from a pool of some
400,000 stored in the freezers of in vitro fertilization clinics. These embryos, only a
few days old and smaller than the head of a pin, will probably be discarded unless
they are donated to science. Embryonic stem cells, the letter noted, can be used to
treat "diseases that affect more than 100 million Americans, such as cancer, heart
disease, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury ..."
The signatories included two dozen pro-life Republicans.

Given the emotional nature of the debate, the Bush White House is unlikely to make
any sudden moves before the November election. But in a startling rebellion against
the federal biomedical establishment, several states are moving forcefully into the
vacuum. California and New Jersey have passed laws specifically authorizing the
cloning of human eggs to create stem cells (so-called therapeutic cloning), and the
legislatures of seven other states, including Illinois and New York, are considering
similar bills. This week New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, in a nod to the
state's pharmaceutical industry, will inaugurate a $50 million stem-cell institute to be

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Source: TIME Magazine 17th May 2004
Title: Stem Cell Rebels
funded with state and private money. In California, activists last month submitted 1.1
million signatures--nearly twice as many as necessary--to launch a November ballot
measure that would underwrite stem-cell research with $3 billion in state bonds over
10 years. The California funds would dwarf federal grants, which have stalled at about
$17 million a year for human embryonic research since Bush restricted funding to a
few dozen pre-existing stem-cell lines. Only 19 of those turned out to be available.
Says Stanford Nobel prizewinner Paul Berg: "California is paving the way for a revolt
in a lot of other states."

Meanwhile, universities are maneuvering for position, fearing that they could lose
their brightest scientists to programs overseas. It was only six years ago that a
biologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, James Thomson, isolated the
first human stem cells from in vitro embryos. But in February, South Korean
researchers stunned the scientific world by successfully harvesting stem cells from
cloned human embryos--considered the most promising avenue for treating disease. A
prestigious American investigator moved to Britain, where the research is encouraged.
Now Stanford and Harvard hope to raise at least $100 million each for new stem-cell
institutes. The universities of Wisconsin and Minnesota are expanding their labs, and
in March an anonymous donor gave $25 million to the University of Texas to boost its
Houston program.

Billions of dollars are at stake in the race for medical cures. California boasts half of
the nation's biomedical research capacity and one-third of its biotech companies. The
bond initiative, if it passes, would pay to build 12 to 15 new stem-cell research
centers, a massive magnet for scientific talent. "California will be the center of stem-
cell research for the world," predicts Palo Alto real estate developer Robert Klein, co-
chairman of the initiative campaign. Klein, who has contributed $1.4 million of his
money toward the effort, touts the economic benefits, forecasting $70 million in tax
revenues from new jobs even before any cures are discovered. And if cures are found,
the profits would accrue to California companies, along with substantial savings on
the state's $114 billion annual health-care bill.

Finances, however, have little to do with Klein's passion for the measure. Like Janet
and Jerry Zucker, Katie's parents and the initiative's other chief organizers, Klein is
the father of a diabetic, Jordan, 13. In addition, his mother, 84, has Alzheimer's.
Distraught at the federal cutoff of stem-cell research, Klein and the Zuckers, who are
Los Angeles film producers, were brought together last year by the Juvenile Diabetes
Research Foundation, one of the nation's most forceful disease-advocacy groups.
They hired a clutch of sophisticated lawyers and political consultants to draft the
measure and conduct polls. They enlisted allies from Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis,
Parkinson's and other disease-advocacy groups and spent $2.5 million gathering
signatures for the initiative. Ten Nobel prizewinners have endorsed the measure,
including David Baltimore, president of the California Institute of Technology, and
Berg, who created the first recombinant DNA molecule. Behind the scenes, Silicon
Valley venture capitalists are backing what is expected to be a $20 million campaign.

It will certainly be a celebrity-studded crusade. Last Saturday, the Zuckers and other
Hollywood notables were hosts of a Beverly Hills tribute to Nancy Reagan that raised
$2 million for stem-cell research. The former First Lady, who took up the cause after
her husband developed Alzheimer's, had earlier written to President Bush in favor of

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Source: TIME Magazine 17th May 2004
Title: Stem Cell Rebels
federal funding. But this is the first time Mrs. Reagan has spoken out publicly on the
issue. Proponents of the California initiative hope that advocacy by an icon of the
conservative movement will help neutralize resistance to the November bond
measure.

Opponents have barely begun to organize. "We're not Hollywood producers," says
Richard Doerflinger, spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "We
don't have the money they do." Nonetheless, he says, pro-life groups will explain to
voters that embryonic stem-cell cloning is "unpromising for cures" and offers "a
gateway to all kinds of possible genetic engineering in humans." Although the
California measure would initially limit research to embryos less than 12 days old,
Doerflinger contends it could lead to "the exploitation of women as 'fetus farms.'"
Such arguments have persuaded eight states, including Iowa, Michigan and Kansas, to
restrict therapeutic-cloning research. More dramatically, the U.S. House passed
legislation last year that would make cloning human cells a crime punishable by up to
10 years in prison. The bill stalled in the Senate, in part because of opposition from
Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, who is antiabortion yet favors stem-cell research.

The initiative's backers plan to run a grass-roots operation urging the 5 million
Californians who are members of disease-advocacy groups to e-mail friends and
neighbors. A December poll commissioned by organizers showed that 85% of
probable voters have a relative or close friend with one of five illnesses most likely to
be a target of the research. The possibility of curing such afflictions as Alzheimer's
and diabetes will be the focus of a multimillion-dollar statewide television campaign.
"This is not a wedge issue," contends state senator Deborah Ortiz, who was attacked
by Catholic Church officials, with little effect, for authoring the law to encourage
stem-cell inquiry. "Ours will be a heartwarming message: that millions of people
might be cured of diseases."

Whatever happens in California is likely to reverberate nationally. Already,


breakthroughs in stem-cell science, published almost weekly in medical journals, are
ratcheting up the stakes. If the initiative passes in the nation's largest state, "it will put
tremendous pressure on the White House to re-evaluate its policy," predicts Daniel
Perry, head of the Washington-based Coalition for the Advancement of Medical
Research. If it doesn't, scientists claim, the work will move to such research-friendly
countries as Israel, Singapore and even China.

No one is more aware of the issues than Katie Zucker. A couple of years ago, she
visited Congress with her parents to lobby for stem-cell research, and she plans to
help generate support for the initiative. "I have dreams and goals in life," she says,
fingering her insulin pump. "What keeps me going is that people are working so hard
to find a cure.

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Source: TIME Magazine 17th May 2004
Title: Stem Cell Rebels

Initial task:
Find the answer to the following question as quickly as
you can:

Why do researchers prefer to use fetal stem cells rather


than adult stem cells?

a) They are more easily obtained.


b) They are less limited in application.
c) They are the building blocks of life.
d) They are revolutionary.

After reading the article, discuss:

In your opinion is embryonic stem cell research


beneficial to society?
Should the Australian Government encourage research
in this area?
If research goes ahead in the future, what
safeguards should be put in place?

Writing Task (optional)

List some points in favour and points against embryonic


stem cell research as listed in the article. You may also
add some ideas of your own,

Points in favour Points against

Essay: what are the advantages and disadvantages of


embryonic stem cell research?
A federally funded clinic for embryonic stem cell
research is being set up in WA. Write a letter to
your state representative either supporting the
project or voicing your strong disapproval.

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Source: TIME Magazine 17th May 2004
Title: Stem Cell Rebels

Initial task: ANSWER


Find the answer to the following question as quickly as
you can:

Why do researchers prefer to use fetal stem cells rather


than adult stem cells?

a) They are more easily obtained.


b) They are less limited in application.
c) They are the building blocks of life.
d) They are revolutionary.

5
Source: TIME Magazine 17th May 2004
Title: Stem Cell Rebels

Title: Stem Cell Rebels


Before you read the article, discuss the title and the meaning of the
following words:

equestrian diabetic ballot amputation embryo


fetus cloning compromise spare harvesting
Now read the text and select the best answer for each of the
questions below.

1. What may diabetic patients suffer from?

a) kidney failure
b) blindness
c) amputation
d) all of the above

2. Excluding America, how many people suffer from Type


1 diabetes worldwide?

a) about one million


b) under three million
c) about four million
d) about five million

3. How do scientists hope to be able to help diabetics


in the future?

a) By fewer insulin injections


b) By creating insulin-producing cells which can be
transferred to the body
c) By growing spare body parts
d) By isolating the cells

4. What was the result of presidential disapproval of


embryonic stem cell research?

a) Human beings will no longer be cloned for body


parts
b) The majority of research grants in this field were
terminated
c) The president was re-elected
d) There were no significant changes

5. What is the main source of fetal stem cells


proposed for use in research?

a) Willing donors
b) Anonymous donors
c) In-vitro fertilization clinics
d) The House of Representatives

6
Source: TIME Magazine 17th May 2004
Title: Stem Cell Rebels

6. How many signatures are needed to initiate a


Californian ballot on state funding for embryonic
research?

a) 1.1 million
b) About half a million
c) 17 million
d) We dont know

7. Which of the following is NOT mentioned as possibly


benefiting from embryonic stem cell research?

a) Multiple Sclerosis
b) Parkinsons Disease
c) Cancer
d) Gluten allergy

8. Why is Nancy Reagans support so important to those


in favour of embryonic stem cell research?

a) She was married to a former president


b) Her husband suffered from Alzheimers
c) She is associated with more traditional attitudes
which could have been expected to oppose the
research.
d) She has personally raised $2 million.

9. What are the fears of opponents of this type of


research?

a) That it could result in female exploitation


b) The fetal right to life would not be respected
c) Both a and b
d) Neither a nor b

10. What is the likely result of continued official


disapproval for this type of research?

a) No further research will be done


b) Scientists will work illegally
c) An election may be necessary
d) Scientists will move to countries where their work
is valued

Now check your answers.

10
7
Source: TIME Magazine 17th May 2004
Title: Stem Cell Rebels

Title: Stem Cell Rebels ANSWERS


Before you read the article, discuss the title and the meaning of the
following words:

equestrian diabetic ballot amputation embryo


fetus cloning compromise spare harvesting
Now read the text and select the best answer for each of the
questions below.

1. What may diabetic patients suffer from?

a) kidney failure
b) blindness
c) amputation
d) all of the above

2. Excluding America, how many people suffer from Type


1 diabetes worldwide?

a) about one million


b) under three million
c) about four million
d) about five million

3. How do scientists hope to be able to help diabetics


in the future?

a) By fewer insulin injections


b) By creating insulin-producing cells which can be
transferred to the body
c) By growing spare body parts
d) By isolating the cells

4. What was the result of presidential disapproval of


embryonic stem cell research?

a) Human beings will no longer be cloned for body


parts
b) The majority of research grants in this field were
terminated
c) The president was re-elected
d) There were no significant changes

5. What is the main source of fetal stem cells


proposed for use in research?

a) Willing donors
b) Anonymous donors

8
Source: TIME Magazine 17th May 2004
Title: Stem Cell Rebels
c) In-vitro fertilization clinics
d) The House of Representatives

6. How many signatures are needed to initiate a


Californian ballot on state funding for embryonic
research?

a) 1.1 million
b) About half a million
c) 17 million
d) We dont know

7. Which of the following is NOT mentioned as possibly


benefiting from embryonic stem cell research?

a) Multiple Sclerosis
b) Parkinsons Disease
c) Cancer
d) Gluten allergy

8. Why is Nancy Reagans support so important to those


in favour of embryonic stem cell research?

a) She was married to a former president


b) Her husband suffered from Alzheimers
c) She is associated with more traditional attitudes
which could have been expected to oppose the
research.
d) She has personally raised $2 million.

9. What are the fears of opponents of this type of


research?

a) That it could result in female exploitation


b) The fetal right to life would not be respected
c) Both a and b
d) Neither a nor b

10. What is the likely result of continued official


disapproval for this type of research?

a) No further research will be done


b) Scientists will work illegally
c) An election may be necessary
d) Scientists will move to countries where their work
is valued