Right off the bat let’s just note that the promised cures from stem cells have been slow in coming.
Science is hard. But many researchers trying to harness embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to produce any kind of cell in the human body, say restrictions on the cells that qualify for federal funding have made the work even harder. (AHCJ article – Covering stem cells: Background on science, politics and global competition)
Earlier this year the Obama administration rolled back limits from the Bush era that restricted federal funding to only a few cell lines. But it still hasn’t been clear which stem cells are OK and which are verboten.
The National Institutes of Health has waded in with clarifying guidelines that take effect today. The upshot: if the old cell lines were created ethically, then they should be good to go. The main issue is whether researchers got the appropriate consent of donors.
Next up, an NIH committee will pass judgment on existing cells and produce a Web site itemizing the ones that are legit.
“Every institution shouldn’t have to rediscover which cell lines are eligible for NIH funding, so having a registry is very practical,” George Q. Daley, a stem-cell researcher at Children’s Hospital Boston told The New York Times.