Friday, June 02, 2006

United States seen lagging on stem cell research

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States is lagging behind Britain and other leading nations on stem cell research, a visiting U.S. Congressional delegation said on Thursday.

Scientists believe that stem cells, master cells in the body that can develop into any cell type, could be used to treat diseases ranging from diabetes to Parkinson's.

But their use is controversial because the most promising stem cells for treating human diseases are derived from very early human embryos.

The United has restricted federal funding of stem cell research which Colorado Democrat Rep. Diana DeGette said has forced some American scientists to relocate to countries which have more lenient policies.

"In addition, leadership in this area of research has shifted to the United Kingdom, which sees this scientific area as a cornerstone of its biotech industry," she said in a statement.

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