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Reeve stem cell appeal to Bush

London, Sept. 30 (Reuters): Christopher Reeve, the Hollywood star paralysed from the neck down, urged US President George W. Bush yesterday to rethink his opposition to controversial stem cell research that might hold hopes for a cure.

Reeve, best known for his title role in the Superman movies, congratulated the British government on its “courageous” decision to allow research on stem cells from various sources, including embryos.

“If they don’t get it together over here (in the United States), I'm coming over there,” he added.

He said US opinion polls showed 70 per cent of Americans supported stem cell research for medical reasons.

“My message to the President would be to rethink his position in light of the fact that there is overwhelming popular support (for it),” Reeve told BBC television.

“I think he really needs to look again at his position and to re-evaluate it.”

Scientists have found stem cells have the capacity to change into different types of cells, which might be a key to developing treatments for illnesses from cancer to Parkinson’s disease.

Reeve, who was paralysed seven years ago when he was thrown from his horse, believes stem cell research might lead to human trials aimed at rebuilding the nervous systems of quadriplegics.

Last year, Bush placed restrictions on federal funding for the research, which is opposed by a variety of US groups, including the influential Christian Right. Opponents object in particular to harvesting stem cells from human embryos.

The actor, who has round-the-clock medical care that costs him $420,100 a year, once said he wanted to be on his feet by the time he was 50 — a birthday he celebrated just a few days ago.

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