Dear Mr. Chairman:
On behalf of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), I am writing to
encourage you to consider the very significant promise that embryonic stem cell
research offers thousands of Ohioans. There is a provision in House Bill 66 that
stipulates that Third Frontier funding not be spent on stem cell research activities.
We support as broad a research funding spectrum as possible for Third Frontier
resources. We would encourage committee members to support funding for stem
cell research as well as other promising areas of bioscience research in the states.
BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic
institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United
States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and
development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental
In Ohio, we work closely with Omeris to represent the more than 200 biotechnology and lifescience companies and nearly 40,000 employees working to develop cures for a variety of diseases. While we categorically oppose human reproductive cloning, we are working
closely with researchers and patient communities to promote the very promising
field of stem cell research. Human stem cells, both adult and embryonic, hold
significant potential to help scientists develop treatments and regenerate damaged
or diseased cells.
Medical research has taken quantum leaps in the past decade. Scientists are
identifying and developing innovative cures to deadly and debilitating diseases.
According the National Institutes of Health and the National Academies of
Science, human embryonic stem (HES) cells have shown incredible promise
toward developing breakthrough treatments for a variety of intractable diseases
including various cancers, kidney disease, diabetes, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis,
Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and many other diseases. In fact, recent developments
have demonstrated that human embryonic stem cells can be used to create insulinproducing
cells that might help cure type-1 diabetes.
Stem cells are unique in that they can become any cell in the body. Working
with these cells, scientists can harness “undifferentiated” human stem cells and
direct them to become a variety of specialized cells. Once enough specialized cells
have been developed they can then be used to repair spinal cord injuries;
regenerate damaged brain cells for people suffering from Parkinson’s or
Alzheimer’s disease; regenerate muscle or organ tissue as well as skin cells to treat
We are not alone in our support for preserving all forms of stem cell research. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in a recent report concluded:
“The scientific and medical considerations that justify a ban on human
reproductive cloning at this time are not applicable to nuclear transplantation to
produce stem cells. Because of the considerable potential for developing new
medical therapies to treat life-threatening diseases and advancing biomedical
knowledge, the panel supported the conclusion of a previous National
Academies’ report—Stem Cells and the Future of Regenerative Medicine—that
recommends that biomedical research using nuclear transplantation to produce
stem cells be permitted.”
Many states are aggressively pursuing legislation to attract biotechnology
companies. California, the state with the largest biotechnology industry presence
in the country, recognizes the promise of this technology. The state became the
first in the nation to create a safe harbor for all forms of stem cell research, and
with the passage for Proposition 71, the state will allocate $3 billion to stem cell
research over the next 10 years. Nearly a dozen states are now considering
legislation to Senator Carey either create safe harbors and/or allocate funding for stem cell research.
States like California and New Jersey are keenly aware of this competition
and have put in place programs to promote industry development. The passage of
their respective stem cell research laws are prime examples of their commitment to
Ohio has a strong foundation of world renowned research institutions
including Ohio University, the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve, as well as
a number of biotechnology companies. With the passage of the Third Frontier
Action Fund, Ohio has received 12 awards specific to the biosciences and nearly
$9.4 million in funds have been distributed throughout the state.
Ohio has always been a staunch supporter of the advancement of biomedical
research and promoting industry growth. Promoting research is imperative if the
state is to continue to compete with other states in the country. We strongly urge
you to preserve the opportunity to use Third Frontier Initiative funding to conduct
this promising research in the state.
Thank you for your consideration. I would be happy to answer any
questions or provide additional information to the committee.
Patrick M. Kelly
Vice President, State Government Relations
Biotechnology Industry Organization