Governor Perry Wants More Stem Cell Research In Texas

Governor Rick Perry is urging the expansion of stem cell research in Texas. The governor invited a stem cell summit to Houston to discuss regenerative medicine.

"Texas can become the nation's center for regenerative medicine."

That's the message from the governor's office after inviting hundreds of biotechnology researchers to Houston. The Stem Cell Summit takes place annually in New York and is also here in Texas for the first time.

Adult stem cells have been used to treat cancer and leukemia for years. They're also more dramatically known for regenerating human tissues and organs, including last year the successful creation of a human heart muscle.

Governor Perry says adult stem cell research is the most promising development in health and science today.

"Regenerative medicine is an industry that Texas wants to be a major part of. Adult stem cells and regenerative medicine hold the promise of miracles."

Perry, who was the keynote speaker, focused on the economic and regulatory climate that he says makes Texas the national leader in biotech job creation.

Earlier this year, the Texas legislature and Texas Medical Board developed a regulatory framework for stem cell research in the state.

"An environment that makes our state, hopefully, be the first to come to mind when people are looking for the cures to diseases that are impacting their loved ones or themselves."

The governor is himself a beneficiary of stem cell research. In 2011, his own stem cells were injected into his back to treat an injury.

Celtex, the company that made the treatment possible, is accused by the FDA of using stem cells to make biological drugs. Celtex has stopped its clinical trials while it negotiates with the federal government.

Perry, an advocate of states' rights, says Texas should decide how much regulation to impose on biotech companies.

"I disagree with the FDA that the process of what's going on here in Texas in some of our companies is creating a drug. No more so than bone marrow transplants are not regulated by the FDA or in vitro fertilization is not regulated by them. So my hope here with this conference is that there's a very good intellectual, open conversation about the future of adult stem cells."

Texas has invested more than $103 million into biotechnology and life science companies through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...