NJ Catholic hospitals to support adult stem cell research

.- New Jersey's 15 Catholic hospitals have agreed to encourage umbilical cord and placenta blood donation to the state's two public cord blood banks for stem-cell research, reported The Associated Press.

Umbilical cords and placentas contain adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cells that the Church opposes being used for research.

"The ethical principles of our Catholic health care tradition demand that we step up to the plate and support and encourage this donation," said Fr. Joseph Kukura, president of the Catholic Health Care Partnership of New Jersey, at the time of the announcement Tuesday.

William Bolan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference said the conference intends to tell New Jersey's 3.6 million Catholics about the initiative by providing inserts for parish bulletins and features in diocesan newspapers.

Catholic hospitals will promote donations with expectant mothers, Fr. Kukura added. He said he hoped this program would become a model for the rest of the country.

Donations to the state banks are free, with donors agreeing to let the donated cells be used for research and for others who need might need them.

In related news, the Senate voted last week to allow the state to invest $250 million in stem cell research. The bill must now receive a vote in the Assembly.

The bill would provide $150 million for a stem cell institute at Rutgers in New Brunswick, $50 million for a biomedical research facility in Camden and $50 million for an adult stem cell research facility at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

The state has invested $25.7 million in stem cell research in the last two years, mostly through grants provided through the state budgets.

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