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64 Stem Cell Lines OK for Use in Federally-Funded Research

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Mazzaschi said that the coalition is worried "about possible restrictions placed on the use of the lines by their owners as well as about [their ability to be successfully used in research] ... and the status of existing lines." He also said that the group was worried about "U.S. patent and licensing arrangements in relation to internationally developed stem cell lines."

The NIH said Monday, "Experience has shown that conditions imposed by patent owners can be crafted both to ensure research uses and to provide appropriate incentives for commercial development."

Mazzaschi also warned, "We continue to believe limiting the number of embryonic stem cell lines available to federally funded scientists may prohibit future scientific progress."

Similarly, Wilson tells WebMD, "Sixty-four lines clearly are not enough. They are not enough to get us to the point of therapies. What good is this research if we can't turn basic research into therapies?"

On the other hand, the NIH argued Monday that the 64 lines should occupy researchers for a long time. It said, "Much basic research can and should be conducted using existing stem cells before any conclusions can be reached regarding the therapeutic potential of these unique cells." According to the NIH, scientists need to focus on initial problems such as determining the best conditions for growing the cells and directing their specialization into other types of cells.

According to Thompson, "No one should be under the illusion that cures for diseases are just around the corner, for there is much fundamental work to be done."

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