Despite the contentious issues surrounding embryonic stem (ES) cell research in the United States, the US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded $240,000 to a research group at Lund University, in Sweden, to study the therapeutic use of human embryonic stem cells in rats.

“We are studying if the ES cells can differentiate into dopamine neurons,” said Patrik Brundin, professor and leader of the neuronal survival research group at Lund University, “and if such dopamine neurons can survive grafting to the brains of Parkinson rats, and actually function too.”

Brundin said that the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research encouraged him to apply for the DoD grant program. “My understanding is that the DoD wants to develop therapies against brain damage that can occur in response to toxins,” Brundin told The Scientist in an E-mail. “Parkinson's disease can be viewed as a model disease in this respect.”...

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