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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Walz Challenges Gutnecht on Stem Cell Research

Press release from the Tim Walz campaign:

June 26, 2006
Contact: Meredith Salsbery, 507-351-7730


According to a study released last week, scientists at Johns Hopkins University successfully reversed partial paralysis in rats by injecting them with stem cells taken from mouse embryos. Scientists used embryonic stem cells and a mixture of "nerve-friendly" chemicals to bridge a spinal cord injury and regenerate the necessary nerve connections to muscles, allowing the partially paralyzed rats to walk again.

DFL congressional candidate Tim Walz applauded the achievement saying, "When elected I will fight to repeal the laws that are inhibiting American researchers. I?m thrilled to see that despite federal interference, scientists at Johns Hopkins were able to achieve such a major breakthrough and I know that if we want to see more breakthroughs the American public must start investing heavily in this research."

"I struggle to understand why my opponent refuses to fight for stem cell research," said Walz. "Stem cells hold the key to improving the lives of millions of Americans. I believe that the Representative from the 1st District should be an advocate for those who would benefit from stem cell technology as well as for the Mayo Clinic where that research is being conducted."

Despite this and other recent breakthroughs, Walz opponent Representative Gil Gutknecht continues to oppose using federal funds to back further research. Gutknecht voted in May of 2005 against expanding Federal funding of stem cell research, a vote that crippled the hopes of Minnesotans with debilitating diseases. [HR 810, Vote #204, 5/24/2005]

Dr. Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the Johns Hopkins study told that, "This work is a remarkable advance that can help us understand how stem cells might be used to treat injuries and disease and begin to fulfill their great promise." [link]

Since gaining control of the Congress in 1994, Rep. Gutknecht and his Republican colleagues have successfully enacted laws preventing the use of federal funds to create or work with all but a few batches of human embryonic stem cells. Researchers have repeatedly stated that the number of stem cell lines and federal funding dollars need to be increased in order for groundbreaking research to continue. Republicans continue to deny their requests.


I'm not surprised Walz is using this issue. This district includes the Mayo Clinic.