NIH Approves Federal Funding for Research on 13 Stem Cell Lines
NIH on Tuesday announced that 13 lines of human embryonic stem cells are eligible for federal funding, the Washington Post reports.
Shortly after taking office, President Obama said he would lift a restriction on federal funding for research on human embryonic stem cells enacted under President George W. Bush. Bush limited federal funding to 21 already existing stem cell lines.
Obama's efforts to loosen funding restrictions have raised multiple ethical issues, according to the Post. In the summer of 2009 NIH released guidelines to clarify ethical issues, including a requirement that any couples who donated embryos for stem cell research that received federal funding were fully informed about other options for their embryos.
Until Thursday's announcement, it remained unclear whether the original 21 lines would pass muster under the new federal guidelines.
Among the 13 lines approved, nine are new and four were created at the University of Wisconsin have been long used by researchers. H9, one of the four existing lines now approved by NIH, is the most widely used line. The three additional lines that have been widely used are known as H7, H13 and H14.
NIH Director Francis Collins said, "Many people who had been working on these lines, and concerned about whether they would be able to continue to work with these lines, will now be reassured that their research can now go forward."
According to Lisa Hughes, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, Tuesday's announcement is "an important step forward." She added, "This is great news, too, for those in the patient community who continue to wait for better treatments and cures" (Stein, Washington Post, 4/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.