With the support of the pope and the Italian Episcopal Conference, which represents all the bishops of Italy, Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni announced last week that he has provided University of Milan-Bicocca researcher Angelo Vescovi with €380,000 to isolate stem cells from naturally miscarried fetuses and test whether the cells can help people afflicted with multiple sclerosis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.I don't know if there are any additional challenges with this compared to regular embryonic stem cell research. But considering the past opposition of the Church, this is indeed a positive development:
It's the first time Italy's Catholic Church, which has strongly opposed embryonic stem cell work and all in vitro fertilization practices, has funded any stem cell research, says Vescovi, who openly sided against ES cell research in a 2005 referendum in Italy. The overall project will cost about €2 million, and Vescovi says the remaining funds have been pledged by private and public sources. He now seeks regulatory approval in Europe or the United States to start clinical testing of his fetal stem cells in the next few months.