Friday, April 5, 2013

Creation of adult stem cell center at KU Med sent to Brownback for consideration

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

The creation of an adult stem cell research and treatment center at Kansas University Medical Center requires only the signature of Gov. Sam Brownback, who has indicated he supports the venture.

The House and Senate on Friday sent the legislation to Brownback even though KU Med didn’t ask for the measure, and there is no funding in the proposal to start what would be called the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center.

The proposal was championed by abortion opponents who say that adult stem cell research has the potential to establish new cures and therapies.

The bill would prohibit the center from using embryonic stem cells or cells taken from aborted fetal tissue. Abortion opponents oppose human embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of the embryo.

But opponents of the bill said the startup of a research center requires a lengthy planning process that brings experts together before approaching the Legislature.

“The Legislature has no business inserting itself into this sort of operation at the Medical Center,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka. “We have no qualifications to do this.”

Kelly also said the advisory board set up for the center would have too many political appointees.

Under the proposal, KU would appoint a director of the center who would be responsible for oversight of patient treatment and research. The center would require $1.1 million to renovate a lab and hire staff and $750,000 annually after that, according to a state fiscal note. But the funding has not been provided by the Legislature.

Supporters of the bill said KU could solicit grants, gifts and contributions.