Stem Cell Trial Puts Atlanta in Spotlight

ATLANTA, Oct. 18 (UPI) — Atlanta is in the center of the biomedical spotlight as the site of the first human trial involving embryonic stem cells — and it’s no accident, experts say.

A number of factors have turned Georgia into a center for biotech research and development, including research centers like Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia and Emory University, top-notch hospitals, and the proximity of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

But Atlanta also finds itself in the center of controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research, with critics who oppose it on ethical or moral grounds threatening a renewed fight to legally restrict the practice, the newspaper said.

Proponents of the research worry that even the threat of such action could derail the research and Atlanta’s leading position in the field.

Patients, researchers and people in the medical-business sector are closely watching the trials, conducted without government funding but with the approval of the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Members of Georgia Right to Life say they will also be watching and say they’ll push for legislation banning embryonic stem cell research when the state General Assembly reconvenes in January, the newspaper said.

“For us the battle is not over. It’s not done in Georgia,” the group’s president Dan Becker says. “I think most Americans would disagree with the basic premise of embryonic stem cell research. With embryonic stem cell treatment, you are always taking a life.”

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