updated 7/1/2004 9:32:09 AM ET 2004-07-01T13:32:09

A doctors’ group in President Bush’s home state has endorsed embryonic stem cell research and says federal funding should be restored for new studies to combat disease.

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The Texas Medical Association published the endorsement Wednesday in its monthly magazine. Members of the group adopted a resolution last month supporting embryonic and adult stem cell research and a process called therapeutic cloning.

The group, the nation’s largest state physicians’ organization with more than 39,000 members, said it would oppose cloning to produce a human child.

Federal help for embryonic stem cell research has been limited since 2001, when Bush signed an executive order preventing its expansion. Because the extraction of stem cells destroys day-old embryos, the process is opposed by groups who link it to abortion.

“There’s a very strong belief these stem cells can offer the world of medicine a strategy for fighting chronically debilitating diseases,” said Dr. Leonides Cigarroa, who chairs the association’s council on scientific affairs. “The belief is this can improve quality of life.”

Scientists believe stem cells can be coaxed to develop into specific cell types that could one day be used to replace damaged tissue and treat such conditions as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injuries.

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