Bloomberg reports on the impact of new regulations regarding federal funding of embryonic stem cell research:
Stem cell research in the U.S. will expand under rules that allow federal government funding for scientists working with unused embryos created at fertility clinics, freeing hundreds of cell lines for study.
The final guidelines released today by the National Institutes of Health increase the number of stem cell lines available for research from 20 to more than 700, the acting director of the agency, Raynard Kington, said in a conference call. Funding for new lines require documents showing the cells were donated, and stem cells being used for research and those from other countries can be approved by an NIH working group.
Embryonic stem cells can grow into any kind of tissue and may accelerate research into cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. President Barack Obama on March 9 lifted restrictions on U.S. government funding for the research imposed in 2001 by former President George W. Bush. The NIH received more than 49,000 comments on the draft rules.
The new rules are “a big step forward,” said Susan Solomon, chief executive officer of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, in a telephone interview today. The absence of a working group option “may well have been an oversight in the draft version.”
An earlier draft of the guidelines released for public feedback in April would have excluded some existing stem cell lines that didn’t meet all the requirements. The new rules ban U.S. funding to scientists using stem cells from embryos created solely for research purposes.