Testimony before the Texas House

Testimony of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
Before the Texas House of Representatives State Affairs Committee

Regarding House Bill 1929 The Use of Human Cells and Tissue

Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony today in support of House Bill
1929, regarding The Use of Human Cells and Tissue.

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions,
state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33
other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of
health care, agriculture, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. In
Texas, we work closely with the Texas Healthcare and Bioscience Institute (THBI)
to represent the to represent the more than 475 life science companies working in
Texas to develop cures for patients suffering from diseases such as cancer,
diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseased as well as many others.

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 Disease, Alzheimer's Disease and many other diseases. In fact, recent
developments have demonstrated that human embryonic stem cells can used to
create insulin-producing cells that might help cure type-1 diabetes.

House Bill 1929 will expressly protect this very promising area of research. In
addition, the bill also protects the right of scientists to use somatic cell nuclear
transfer technology for the derivation of HES cells. This innovative process may
some day improve treatments, minimizing the risk of rejection of new cells and
tissue because it uses an individual's own cells to treat specific diseases.

BIO is committed to the socially responsible use of biotechnology to save or
improve lives. We recognize that there are moral and ethical concerns surrounding
human embryonic research. This bill strikes an appropriate balance by prohibiting
reproductive human cloning while encouraging potentially life saving research to
advance under carefully constructed regulatory oversight. House Bill 1929 will
ensure that researchers in Texas can employ this valuable technology, and that
patients in Texas and possibly around the world might one day benefit from
treatments or cures developed using stem cell technologies.

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 burn victims. The
benefit of this type of therapeutic cloning may someday allow doctors to treat
patients suffering from these maladies with cells that are the genetic duplicates of
the patients’ own damaged cells. This could significantly reduce rejection issues
common with donor cells or organ transplants.

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.”

In addition, numerous public officials support the promise of stem cell research.
Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy
Carter, U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Edward Kennedy, as well as former Senator
and ordained minister John Danforth all support the potential of embryonic stem
cell research to develop cures for the diseases afflicting millions of people
worldwide.

Texas is widely recognized as a center excellence for life science research and
development. However, there are states that 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 either create safe harbors and/or allocate
funding for stem cell research. The passage of House Bill 1929 will further cement
the state's reputation as a preeminent leader in biomedicine and biotechnology.
Texas has always been a staunch supporter of the advancement of biomedical
research and promoting industry growth. Promoting the very promising area of
stem cell research is imperative if the state is to continue to hold its competitive
advantage over other states in the country. We strongly urge members of the
committee to support House Bill 1929.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony. Please feel free to
contact me if you have any questions or need additional information.

Respectfully Submitted,

Patrick M. Kelly
Vice President, State Government Relations
Biotechnology Industry Organization