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Our cancer centers need Congress to pass robust NIH budget

By Drs. Michael B. Kastan, Norman E. Sharpless and Boris Pasche

When members of Congress return to Washington at the end of this month, we are hopeful they will recognize there is a mutual and national benefit to working together to pass an omnibus package for Fiscal Year 2017 that includes robust investments in the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute.

We are quite fortunate in North Carolina to have three NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers, a distinction achieved by conducting basic, clinical and population-scale cancer research. As the directors of those centers, we know firsthand that strong and sustained investments in the NIH and NCI drive the meaningful progress in cancer research and discovery that enables our caregivers to provide better and more effective cancer care.

Our three cancer centers have a history of making groundbreaking discoveries that improve our ability to prevent, diagnose and more effectively treat cancer. . . Read more at The Heard Sun.

Next Steps on Research Using Animal Embryos Containing Human Cells

Biomedical researchers have created and used animal models containing human cells for decades to gain valuable insights into human biology and disease development. For example, human tumor cells are routinely grown in mice to study cancer disease processes and to evaluate potential treatment strategies. To advance regenerative medicine, it is common practice to validate the potency of pluripotent human cells – which can become any tissue in the body – through introducing them into rodents.

With recent advances in stem cell and gene editing technologies, an increasing number of researchers are interested in growing human tissues and organs in animals by introducing pluripotent human cells into early animal embryos. Formation of these types of human-animal organism, referred to as “chimeras”, holds tremendous potential for disease modeling, drug testing, and perhaps eventual organ transplant. However, uncertainty about the effects of human cells on off-target organs and tissues in the chimeric animals, particularly in the nervous system, raises ethical and animal welfare concerns.

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Michelle Maclay, Communications Director