Coming clean on stem cells

US official admits most approved lines useless for now, supports proposed UK stem cell bank.

Ted Agres(tedagres@lycos.com)
Jan 20, 2003

The National Institutes of Health's human embryonic stem cell registry, which listed 71 cell lines eligible for federally-funded research, was "misleading" and "useless," a senior NIH official admits. Jim Battey, head of the NIH stem cell task force and director of NIH's Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), told The Scientist that including those 71 cell lines in the registry "probably was misleading" to the scientific community because it meant they were available for researchers when, in fact, only a fraction of that number were ready for shipment.

"No statement was made as to how many vials of those cells were stocked away in a freezer," Battey said. "I don't think it was deliberately misleading, but it was often misinterpreted by the community. They figured if it was on the registry and eligible for funding that meant they could get the cells just by calling up and...

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