Majority of Senators send letter to President Bush lobbying stem cell research

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In the wake of the death of former President Ronald Reagan, President Bush is considering a letter from 58 Senators who have asked him to relax restrictions on stem cell research, a controversial research method to understanding diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Though the Senators' letter – endorsed by 42 Democrats, 15 Republicans and an independent – was sent to Bush Friday, before Reagan died, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the timing is  apropos: "This issue is especially poignant given President Reagan's passing. Embryonic stem cell research might hold the key to a cure for Alzheimer's and other terrible diseases."

In April, 206 House members sent a similar letter to Bush.

Bush signed an executive order in August 2001 limiting federal research funding for stem cell research to 78 embryonic stem cell lines then in existence. According to the letter, only 19 of those lines are now available to researchers. Furthermore, those available are contaminated with mouse feeder cells, which may undermine the research.