Topeka Eight months after the establishment of the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at Kansas University Medical Center, the center is conducting clinical trials and advancing treatments for numerous diseases, KU officials said Monday.
"We are very excited about the work that is going on," said Dr. Doug Girod, executive vice chancellor of the KU Medical Center.
Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn, the center's director, detailed clinical trials that are under way and several in the planning stages to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
"These trials will help local patients to get access to stem cell therapy," Dawn said. "Kansas can be a leader in providing stem cell treatments."
Created last year by the Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback, the center will work on adult stem cell, cord blood and related stem cell research, providing therapies to patients and serving as a clearinghouse for physicians on cutting-edge treatments.
The center is prohibited from using embryonic stem cells or cells taken from aborted fetal tissue. Abortion opponents oppose human embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of the embryo.
David Prentice, senior fellow for life sciences of the Family Research Council, said the center was unique in the country.
Prentice, who was involved in the development of the center and is on the center's advisory board as a representative of the scientific community, said, "I do want to reemphasize the focus on the center is patient-centered," while also working on education, clinical trials and research.
The FRC describes itself as a Christian organization promoting the traditional family unit and the Judeo-Christian value system. Its critics say it spreads anti-gay propaganda.
State Sen. Jeff Melcher, R-Overland Park, said the research sounded exciting but that he was concerned that the advisory board had no business people on it to secure private and business funding.
Dawn agreed that the advisory board lacked business people, and suggested the law that set up the center could be amended to include business representatives.