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Last updated at 14:50 GMT, Monday, 09 March 2009

Obama to fund stem cell research


9 March 2009

President Obama will announce today that President Bush's ban on the funding of embryonic stem cell research is to be overturned. The move has been condemned by conservative groups but welcomed by many American scientists.

Justin Webb

stem cells

Stem cells have the capacity to develop into any type of cell


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For eight years American scientists have been banned by law from using taxpayers’ money to assist in work on most embryonic stem cell lines. The result, according to many scientists, has been a reduction in the effectiveness of their research.

Embryonic stem cells can morph into any cell in the body, and they might one day assist in curing chronic conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. But their use involves the destruction of embryos, typically those left over from fertility treatment.

America's religious conservatives are deeply upset. One called the Obama announcement, ‘a slap in the face to Americans who believe in the dignity of all human life’. The Republican Party is also opposing the move, which is yet another bold step away from the policies and ideology of the Bush years, in which religious faith often trumped scientific advice. That approach, Mister Obama will make clear today, is now history.

Justin Webb, BBC News, Washington


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banned by law
forbidden by the government, not allowed
embryonic stem cell lines
a family of cells created from embryos (young animals or humans in the earliest stage of development) which are frequently used for research
change into something else
chronic conditions
diseases which last for a long time or reoccur frequently
left over
a slap in the face
a serious insult (this is a phrase, no one was literally hit across the face)
bold step away
a brave move or action to depart from
the Bush years
the period of time George Bush was president
won favour over something
is now history
is over, in the past

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