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Thompson visits Vatican to encourage scientists to use adult stem cells

VATICAN CITY - Former Governor Tommy Thompson went to the Vatican yesterday to encourage scientists to use adult stem cells in their medical research - and not the embryonic cells developed at UW-Madison.

Thompson, a Republican who's running for the U.S. Senate, called on President Obama to form a panel of business leaders to look ways to provide funding for therapies derived by adult stem cells. He told a Vatican conference that the best ideas are the simplest ones - and adult cells quote, "use the divine wisdom inside each of us to wipe away disease' without a single embryo being destroyed.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said Thompson was singing a different tune yesterday, after he called the UW's James Thomson a "bold pioneer" in embryonic stem cell creation in 1999. Nine years later, the paper said the former governor took credit for helping George W. Bush create a policy that uses existing embryonic cell lines for research - even though it banned the use of federal funds to create new embryonic lines. That policy was reversed in the Obama White House. Thompson spokesman Darrin Schmitz said the former governor's latest stand is consistent with the ban on new cell lines he helped Bush develop while serving as the nation's health secretary. Schmitz said Thompson's a pro-life Catholic who had quote, "always sought to protect new and existing life."