Many Americans Approve of Stem Cell Research for Curing Serious Diseases

While research using human embryonic stem cells has roused political controversy for almost two decades, little has been done to scientifically assess American attitudes on the subject. New research from the University of Nevada, Reno provides decision-makers with a much clearer picture of how their constituents truly feel about the subject.

The study, "U.S. attitudes toward human embryonic stem cell research," published this month in the journal, Nature Biotechnology, was conducted by University of Nevada, Reno faculty members Mariah Evans (lead author) and Jonathan Kelley, who surveyed a large, representative national sample of 2,295 respondents in 2009. Their most significant findings include:

More than two-thirds of respondents approved of using therapeutic cloning (nuclear transfer of the patient's own genes) and stem cells from in vitro fertilized embryos to cure cancer or treat heart attacks, while only about one in six respondents did not approve. Therapeutic cloning remains banned in the United States today. About one in six respondents had mixed feelings or was undecided.

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