Human Embryonic Stem Cells Get NIH Nod
13 Human Embryo Stem Cell Lines Approved for Research, More to Come
Dec. 2, 2009 - Thirteen human embryonic stem cell lines now are available to
U.S. government-funded scientists, and 96 more are in the approval
Last March, the Obama administration relaxed Bush-era restrictions on
research use of human embryos. The new guidelines took effect last July. They
require a review to ensure that the cell lines come from embryos donated under
strict ethical guidelines for informed consent.
That review is complete for 13 human embryonic cell lines. Twenty
more of these cell lines will complete final review on Friday. A total of
109 cell lines are in the review pipeline -- and "a couple hundred or more
other" researchers intend to submit new cell lines for review, says NIH
Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD.
"There is still a ban on the creation of new embryonic stem cell lines with
federal funds, so we are talking about the use of these cell lines and not
their derivation in federally funded research," Collins said at a news
Eleven of the newly approved cell lines were established at Children's
Hospital, Boston; two were established at Rockefeller University in New
"It is gratifying to know that the lines we made at Rockefeller University
can now be used by NIH-funded researchers across the country to develop
therapies for a wide variety of diseases," Scott Noggle, PhD, director of the
stem cell laboratory at the New York Stem Cell Foundation, says in a news
Under the Obama administration guidelines, the cell lines must come from
embryos created for the purpose of human in vitro fertilization but not needed
for that purpose. Donors must be fully informed of their options to freeze the
embryos for later use, to destroy them, or to donate them for research. Donors
may not be paid or reimbursed for the embryos.
Thirty-one studies, federally funded to the tune of $21 million, are ready
to use the cell lines. Many of the studies will look at whether embryonic stem
cells can be used to treat currently incurable diseases.
"One of the studies is focused on the use of stem cells tor therapeutic
regeneration of heart muscle cells damaged by heart attacks," Collins said.
"Another will produce neural stem cells to learn to see whether they can be
used for Parkinson's disease. Other studies are focused on basic advances in
using these cells, including a culture system for self-renewal to make them
available in large quantities."
One study already under way will look at whether embryonic stem cells can
help people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries. That trial is on hold due to
"Now there is a chance for this research to go forward more quickly,"
In August 2001, the Bush administration limited research on embryonic stem
cells to cell lines established before that date.
"Those were the early days of stem cell research, and much has been learned
since then," Collins said. "Over the last eight years, using non-federal funds,
hundreds of embryonic stem cell lines have been derived. The policy we now are
following allows those lines to be considered for federally funded research, as
well as others established in the future with no-federal funds."