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No funding for hybrid cloning

Less than a year after the creation of "admixed" human-animal hybrid embryos for stem cell research was legalized in the UK, investigators with permits to conduct the research have had their grant proposals rejected by two of the country's leading funding bodies. "Our funding applications have not been successful, so we don't have the equipment and personnel to do this work," linkurl:Stephen Minger,;http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/biohealth/research/wolfson/sminger.html a stem cell researcher at K

By | January 13, 2009

Less than a year after the creation of "admixed" human-animal hybrid embryos for stem cell research was legalized in the UK, investigators with permits to conduct the research have had their grant proposals rejected by two of the country's leading funding bodies. "Our funding applications have not been successful, so we don't have the equipment and personnel to do this work," linkurl:Stephen Minger,;http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/biohealth/research/wolfson/sminger.html a stem cell researcher at King's College London and one of the three scientists approved by the linkurl:Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority;http://www.hfea.gov.uk/ (HFEA) to create hybrid embryos, told __The Scientist__. "We're kind of stuck; we can't do anything." "It is possible that people morally opposed to what we want to do are turning down our application," said Minger, whose grant application was rejected in September. (He declined to say which funding agency had turned it down.) "But we have no evidence of that," he added. linkurl:Lyle Armstrong,;http://www.ncl.ac.uk/ihg/staff/profile/lyle.armstrong another license holder from Newcastle University who has already created 278 human-cow hybrid embryos, was also denied funds for a project to retrieve embryonic stem cells from the embryos. The third scientist approved by the HFEA, the University of Warwick's linkurl:Justin St. John,;http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/med/staff/stjohn has not yet submitted a grant for hybrid clone research. Minger suspects that the growing excitement for cellular reprogramming and induced pluripotent stem cells could have also cooled reviewers' enthusiasm for traditional cloning techniques such as somatic cell nuclear transfer. Neither Minger nor Armstrong was told why their proposals were unsuccessful, other than that they had to compete with other projects. The two grant-rejecting agencies were the linkurl:Medical Research Council;http://www.mrc.ac.uk/index.htm (MRC) and the linkurl:Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council;http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/ (BBSRC), according to the__ linkurl:Independent;http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/funding-halted-for-stem-cell-research-1332000.html __newspaper. "Having a HFEA license to conduct a certain type of research does not automatically entitle researchers to funding," Colin Miles, head of BBSRC's integrative and systems biology sector, said in a statement. "They must still compete for funding based on scientific excellence and strategic impact and the potential of the project to add significantly to the body of knowledge in that area." Regarding the potential moral opposition to his research, Minger told __The Scientist__: "Could it be possible? Yes. Is it likely? I don't know. Do I have any evidence of it? No." "The suggestion made in the __Independent__ newspaper that stem cell research is under threat or that funding has halted is erroneous and misleading," said linkurl:Leszek Borysiewicz,;http://www.mrc.ac.uk/utilities/search/MRC002342 chief executive of the MRC, in a statement. "There is no better way to decide what should be funded than to use tried-and-tested peer review systems where scientists assess applications on their merits. This system, as operated, rules out the possibility of a personal moral view influencing the final outcome of a proposal." "Decisions about funding are made by consensus via a thorough process that involves external reviewers as well as members of a BBSRC committee or panel," added Miles. "It would be highly unlikely that a moral objection from a single party in this process could prevent the funding of a particular project."
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:UK gives third hybrid embryo ok;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54814/
[1st July 2008]*linkurl:Hybrid embryos challenged;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54531/
[9th April 2008]*linkurl:UK approves hybrid embryos;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53564/
[5th September 2007]
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Mettler Toledo
BD Biosciences
BD Biosciences