Title VI of H.R. 2653 would explicitly support three kinds of research through the Medical Breakthrough Fund. Basic research, also known as early stage investigation, is performed without thought of practical ends, but with the goal of expanding general knowledge and understanding of nature and its laws. Translational research fosters the multidirectional and multidisciplinary integration of basic research, patient-oriented research, and population-based research. Finally, clinical research describes any study that involves people, either through direct interaction or through the collection and analysis of blood, tissues, and other samples.
Title VI creates the Medical Breakthrough Fund to promote research developments in specific diseases, namely Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
- The CV Prize focuses particularly on Alzheimer’s disease, which is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and eventually the ability to carry out simple tasks. Alzheimer’s affects more than five million Americans, primarily aged 60 or older, and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. The disease leads to mild symptoms like wandering, getting lost, and personality and behavioral changes; moderate symptoms like problems recognizing family and friends, difficulty carrying out daily tasks, and hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia; and severe symptoms like the loss the ability to communicate, seizures, difficulty swallowing, and ultimately becoming completely dependent on others.
- Cancer encompasses a broad range of ailments wherein body tissue cells rapidly and incessantly divide. Many cancers result in solid tumors, or masses of tissues, that can be malignant or benign.
- Heart disease encompasses a range of conditions that affect one’s heart. These conditions include blood vessel diseases such as coronary artery disease; diseases leading to narrowed or blocked blood vessels; or diseases that affect the heart’s muscle, valves, or rhythm.
- Stroke can occur when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue or oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to permanent brain damage and death.
- Diabetes encompasses a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood sugar (glucose). Left untreated, diabetes can cause various long-term health complications.
Title VII prohibits funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research and human cloning. Stem cells are body cells that have the potential to turn into other types of specialized tissue cells as an individual grows; stem cells also help repair damaged tissues. Embryo-destructive stem cell research, also referred to as embryonic stem cell research, makes use of embryonic stem cells, which are stem cells derived from lab-fertilized embryos. Unlike adult stem cells, which tend to progress into only certain tissue types, an embryonic stem cell can become any sort of tissue, meaning they could have wide clinical use in addressing certain maladies. Current research aims to reveal ways that embryonic stem cells could treat diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or muscular dystrophy.
Human cloning is the complete nuclear transfer of one human’s DNA from a diploid cell (one containing two sets of chromosomes) into an enucleated oocyte (an immature, unfertilized egg cell with its nuclear material removed) so as to create an embryo. This procedure is used for other animals for reproductive cloning, which attempts to create a new copy of an existing animal by allowing that embryo to grow in a female’s womb. The procedure is likewise used for humans for therapeutic cloning, which yields embryonic stem cells in a lab setting. The result of the procedure is a viable embryo, which in the case of therapeutic cloning can then be used to produce embryonic stem cells for the ultimate purpose of using those stem cells to treat a disease.