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Speakers Talk Stem-Cell Research at Missouri Cures Event in Clayton

It happened April 6 at the home of Sam Fox.

Leaders recently gathered at a Clayton home to learn more about stem-cell research and a nonprofit whose goals include promoting and protecting it.

Speakers discussed the opportunities and challenges facing stem-cell research during the April 6 event for Missouri Cures, a news release from the group states.

They included Dr. John McDonald, who once worked as actor Christopher Reeve's neurologist and as a faculty member at Washington University; Dr. William Danforth, chancellor emeritus of the university; Dr. Sessions Cole, chief medical officer at St. Louis Children's Hospital; and Donn Rubin, executive director of The Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences who is also a Clayton resident.

Clayton resident Sam Fox hosted 70 people as part of the April 6 event for Missouri Cures. Fox is a businessman who once served as the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, the release states.

Dena Ladd, executive director for Missouri Cures, said Fox has supported the group's efforts since it backed the passage of Missouri's Amendment 2 in 2006. That amendment permits federally approved forms of stem-cell research to also be conducted in Missouri "to ensure that Missouri patients have access to stem cell therapies and cures." The April 6 gathering, an invitation-only event, primarily featured people who have expressed an interest in working with the group in the future.  The group also is looking to build its donor base.

Ladd said that because 42 legal attempts to re-write part of the amendment have been made, the group remains at work in Jefferson City and elsewhere in the state to advocate for its preservation.

"We continue to fight the threats," Ladd said.

At the same time, the group educates people about research. Ladd referenced Geron as an example. The California-based company has begun a clinical trial involving the treatment of spinal-cord injuries using cells derived from embryonic stem cells, a news release on its website states.

Ladd said Missouri Cures will continue to bring together leaders to talk about the issue of stem-cell research and to perform outreach. She said people interested in learning more may sign up for free membership and a monthly electronic newsletter using the group's website.

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