VATICAN CITY, June 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Vatican has invested $1 million in a U.S. company, NeoStem, that works with adult stem cells to find cures for disease and injuries. This is the first time the Vatican has entered into an agreement with a private company to advance stem cell research.

At a press conference at the Vatican yesterday, Dr. Robin Smith, CEO of NeoStem, said, “People are very focused on advancing science and it has become a little bit of a political debate. But I think the key is safety, and whatever your political sway is, everyone wants to improve medicine to advance technology and to decrease human suffering.”

NeoStem is an international biopharmaceutical company that undertakes a wide range of biomedical research and operates using only adult stem cells in China and the U.S.

“There are people that are focused on advancing all types of stem cell therapy, both embryonic and adult, but I think the safety profiles of the adult stem cell are going to assist in making that advance more rapidly and we even see today there’s over 70 diseases that are using adult stem cells to treat them as part of the standard of care,” Dr. Smith said.

Fr. Tomasz Trafny, director of the office of science and faith of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said, “We strongly support adult stem cell research for two reasons. First, of course, because we have very clear ethical statement about the value of human life and each stage of its development. Second because adult stem cell research is safe not only from an ethical and moral point of view but from biological, medical point of view.”

Working in partnership with the Pontifical Academy for Life, and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, the project aims to further research on adult stem cells and “explore the cultural, ethical and human implications of their use.”

The project will also undertake public policy work to raise awareness among political, scientific and religious leaders to create a “cultural paradigm shift” in favor of using adult stem cells for regenerative medicine.