Old 04-17-2009, 05:00 PM #1
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Default NIH to offer stem cell research guidelines

NIH to offer stem cell research guidelines
By Ian Swanson
Posted: 04/17/09 02:13 PM [ET]

The National Institutes of Health will publish draft guidelines next week governing federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research.

Acting NIH Director Raynard Kington said the guidelines are the “first step” in expanding stem cell research, and that it “will lead in a relatively short period of time” to an increase in the number of human embryonic stem cells eligible for public funding.

The announcement follows President Obama’s move last month to lift restrictions on the research imposed by President Bush in 2001.

The research is controversial because it involves the destruction of human embryos. Obama was criticized by anti-abortion-rights groups for lifting Bush’s rules, which limited research to those stem cell lines that were in existence as of Aug. 9, 2001 when Bush issued his policy.

Proponents of using the stem cells believe the new lines could allow researchers to work toward finding cures to various diseases and debilitating conditions.

Human embryonic stem cells, according to the NIH, could offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat diseases and conditions, including Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal cord injury, burns, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.

Because embryos are destroyed to create the stem cells, opponents of abortion rights believe that using public funds would direct taxpayer money to ending human lives. They argue researchers would gain as much from work on adult stem cells as they would on embryonic cells, though the broad consensus among scientists is that embryonic cells hold substantially more potential for finding cures because they could be reprogrammed into virtually any type of human cell.

Kington said the guidelines would only allow the use of human embryonic stem cells derived by in vitro fertilization for reproductive services that were no longer needed for that purpose. The use of human embryonic stem cells derived from other sources, including somatic cell nuclear transfer — a procedure some view as tantamount to human cloning — would not be allowed, he said.

Kington said there is broad public support for the use of the stem cells allowed under the new guidelines, and pointed to legislation allowing the research that was approved by Congress twice but vetoed by Bush. He said using stem cells derived from other sources was more controversial within the scientific community.

The use of the new stem cell lines will also be subject to strict informed-consent procedures during the derivation phase of the stem cells, Kington said. For example, they would require written consent from those who sought reproductive services and donated the cells. No inducements can be offered for the cells, and policies confirming that the willingness to donate would not have an impact on care must be in place at the facility that accepted the cells.

Kington said the new guidelines would allow “many more” lines of stem cells to be eligible for funding, but refused to be pinned down on how many of the estimated 700 lines at private research facilities could now be eligible for public funds.

Still, he said there was “no question” it will greatly open the door to research in this area.

Guidelines will be published in the Federal Register next week, to be followed by a public comment period. Final rules could be published by July 7.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:50 PM #2
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Another great article, rocmg. Hopefully, the new adult cell technology from companies such as Neuralstem can provide us with good benefit until the embryonic cell technology emerges.
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