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Stem Cell Research: The Basics

For those who need to learn more about stem cell research, CBS News health contributor Dr. Bernardine Healy shared some basic information with the Saturday Early Show.

What is the difference between a stem cell and a living embryo?

Stem cells are extracted from a living embryo and, in the process, the embryo is destroyed.

What is the line that President Bush drew on stem cell research?

Right now, federally funded stem cell research isn't being done, so what President Bush did was to challenge scientists to go ahead and research the 60 some stem cell lines that already exist around the world, using federal funds. But they cannot create new embryonic stem cells or use stem cells that are currently being stored.

We're already hearing that some stem cell research is underway in the private sector. What will federal funding for stem cell research mean?

This means that as much as 90% of the stem cell research will be done under the guidelines of the federal government or National Institutes of Health, which in the end could mean more research. All of a sudden, money that wasn't being put toward stem cell research would be available.

What does this decision mean for research?

This will help researchers. The government and public now have a stake in the research because of the tax dollars used. Also, the government will now have some oversight in the research.

Over the past few months, we have been talking about embryonic stem cell research. But isn't it true that other types of stem cell research are going on?

Scientists have also discovered that stem cells can be found in living adults (from blood and bone marrow). However, studies seem to indicate that these cells are not as flexible as embryonic stem cells.
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