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Report Recommends New Stem Cell Policy

by Susan R. Morrissey
January 26, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 4

Credit: NIH
Human embryonic stem cells growing on a mouse feeder layer.
Credit: NIH
Human embryonic stem cells growing on a mouse feeder layer.

President Barack Obama should take immediate action to lift the restriction limiting federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, according to a report from the Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Center for American Progress. The current U.S. policy allows federal funds to be used to study some 21 cell lines derived before August 2001. The report recommends that the new President issue either an executive order or a presidential memorandum to open up research in this area. The revised policy, the report says, should allow federal grants to be issued by NIH for the study of embryonic stem cell lines derived with private funds, regardless of when they were first created. Ethical guidelines for the derivation of cell lines should also be part of the policy; federal funds, however, should not be used to derive new cell lines, the report says. Finally, the policy should be codified in legislation passed by Congress. "The bottom line," the report states, "is that embryonic stem cell research is good science. It is necessary science, and it needs to be part of America's federally funded biomedical research enterprise."


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