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New human embryonic stem cell lines eligible for federal research dollars for the first time since 2001

December 2, 2009 | 11:36 am

The number of human embryonic stem cell lines eligible to be used in government-funded research just went up by 13.

Collins The National Institutes of Health announced today that 11 new cell lines from Dr. George Daley at Children’s Hospital Boston and two lines from Ali Brivanlou at Rockefeller University in New York became the first additions to the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry since President Obama reversed his predecessor’s policy. Under President Bush, only human embryonic stem cells prior to August 2001 were eligible for federal funding.

The new lines were derived from embryos created for fertility treatments and donated by couples who went through a rigorous informed consent process.

And more may be on the way. The NIH said that 96 more lines have been submitted by researchers, including 20 that will be vetted by an advisory committee on Friday.

The additions come nearly nine months after Obama signed an executive order that directed the NIH to make federal research funds available to newer lines of human embryonic stem cells. Scientists were overjoyed and said the decision would accelerate the pace of research into such ailments as diabetes, Alzheimer's and spinal cord injuries. Details of the policy are available here.

-- Karen Kaplan

Photo: NIH Director Francis Collins said today that he was "happy to say that we now have human embryonic stem cell lines eligible for use by our research community under our new stem cell policy." Credit: Aude Guerrucci-Pool / Getty Images

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