NIH stem cell news - or is it?

An interesting news release from the NIH landed in my inbox Tuesday (September 18). The headline said the agency "Announces Plan to Implement President's linkurl:Stem Cell;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/36654/ Executive Order." I know, I know -- the linkurl:executive order;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53059/ came six years ago. But apparently, now the agency is taking new steps -- for instance, asking for grant applications to study non-embryonic sources of

By | September 20, 2007

An interesting news release from the NIH landed in my inbox Tuesday (September 18). The headline said the agency "Announces Plan to Implement President's linkurl:Stem Cell;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/36654/ Executive Order." I know, I know -- the linkurl:executive order;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53059/ came six years ago. But apparently, now the agency is taking new steps -- for instance, asking for grant applications to study non-embryonic sources of pluripotent cells, and creating two supplemental programs to augment already in-progress stem cell research. The plan also calls for "aggressively pursuing an assessment of the potential of alternative sources of pluripotent stem cell lines, " such as reprogramming somatic cells. "While these methods have been proposed, questions remain as to their feasibility. To address this issue, the NIH will undertake a comprehensive research portfolio review to determine what research NIH is currently supporting in this area and convene a state-of-the-science workshop to identify the key questions," the release notes. "Some of the alternative methods may raise questions under applicable law. In such cases, NIH must carefully consider whether it may fund such research. " That's an interesting comment. I wonder what it will mean. No one answered my phone call to the press contact listed on the release when I called this afternoon. The agency also plans to rename its Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry the "Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Registry," and will consider adding new linkurl:human pluripotent;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/43099/ stem cell lines.

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