First 13 human embryonic stem cell lines approved for use in U.S.

13:40, December 03, 2009      

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The U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) on Wednesday announced the approval of the first 13 human embryonic stem cell lines for use in NIH-funded research under the NIH Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research adopted in July 2009.

Children's Hospital Boston developed 11 of the approved lines and Rockefeller University in New York City developed two of them. An additional 96 lines have been submitted to NIH for either internal administrative review or consideration.

"I am happy to say that we now have human embryonic stem cell lines eligible for use by our research community under our new stem cell policy," NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement. "In accordance with the guidelines, these stem cell lines were derived from embryos that were donated under ethically sound informed consent processes. More lines are under review now, and we anticipate continuing to expand this list of responsibly derived lines eligible for NIH funding."

Research using hESCs is already yielding information about the complex events that occur during human development. Researchers hope that eventually cells differentiated from hESCs may be used to treat a myriad of diseases, conditions, and disabilities and to test the safety of new drugs in the laboratory.

U.S. President Barack Obama on March 9 issued an executive order that allows federal money to fund expanded embryonic stem cell research.

The decision was a clear repudiation of the approach taken by Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush. U.S. law limits the use of federal money to make human stem cells, but Bush tightened the restrictions even further to include work using such cells.

On July 6, the NIH released guidelines for human stem cell research. The guidelines limit federal funding for research on leftover embryonic stem cells culled from fertility clinic embryos. The guidelines also prohibit federal funding for embryos made by cloning or certain other methods.

The guidelines allow funding for research using human embryonic stem cells derived from embryos created by in vitro fertilization for reproductive purposes.

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