Iowa legislature should support adult stem cell research

By Dr. Alan Moy

Iowa House File 277, a $2 million tax credit that would support adult stem cell research and future clinical trials, was not allowed to advance to a vote in the Ways and Means Com­mittee. Even though the bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Ways and Means subcommittee, the full com­mittee’s chairman, Rep. Lee Hein, R-Monticello, chose not to bring the bill to a vote.

Dr. Moy

This represents the eighth straight year that Iowa politicians have failed to allow the bill to come to a vote in the Ways and Means Committee. A companion Senate bill, Senate File 37, is currently in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The John Paul II Medical Research Institute (JP2MRI), a nonprofit based in Coralville, has made multiple efforts to contact committee chairman Sen. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, to discuss the bill.

Both HF277 and SF37 exclude research that uses embryonic stem cells and aborted fetal cells. We believe our state legislators should support this legislation because it supports adult stem cell research that could help patients with neurodegenerative disease, rare diseases, cancer and unmet diseases and create economic development. We are disappointed by the lack of response to date.

A 2011 independent report by Battelle Memorial Institute and commissioned by the Iowa Legislature recommended public support for regenerative medicine since biotechnology was described as a strength for the state, in part, because of research conducted by JP2MRI. Our institute has helped develop the largest pipeline of adult stem cells in the world, and co-developed the first virus-free and oncogene-free induced pluripotent stem cell technology — both designed for cell therapy.

For the past eight years we have been given all sorts of excuses why such an important bill will not be brought up for a vote in the Ways and Means Committee. Failure to pass this bill will limit growth of adult stem cell research in Iowa and ultimately delay establishment of clinical trials in this state.

This year, to facilitate the bill’s passage we recommended that the tax credit be reduced from $10 million to $2 million and even recommended a 15-year sunset provision, which is a rare condition for public tax credits.

The bill had the endorsement of the Iowa Catholic Conference, the Iowa Biotechnology Association and Older Iowans Legislature. If the legislation fails to pass this session, JP2MRI plans on pursuing partnerships with other states that have more proactive and attractive public-private partnerships in regenerative medicine to initiate future clinical trials in those states. The move would provide the best chance of fulfilling the mission of the institute and meeting the obligation of its donors, of which more than 90 percent reside outside of Iowa.

(Dr. Alan Moy is founder of John Paul II Medical Research Institute, or JP2MRI, a nonprofit medical research organization whose mission is to conduct adult stem cell research for its therapeutic priorities. These include neurodegenerative diseases, rare diseases, cancer, and chronic diseases that are unmet and underperformed by the biopharmaceutical industry. The institute conducts ethical medical research consistent within the framework of Catholic moral teaching, which includes avoiding the use of human embryos and aborted fetal tissue in medical research.)

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