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Stem cells trickle into Germany

Only a handful of groups have applied to import embryonic cells under stringent rules

Ned Stafford(hn@europefn.de)

Just five applications to import embryonic stem cells for research purposes have been approved by Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) since a strict new law took effect in July of last year—a sign for some that leading German scientists are taking their work to other countries.

Under the new law, researchers wishing to import embryonic stem cells must apply for approval at the RKI, which is similar to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The applications are then reviewed by the Central Ethics Committee for Stem Cell Research, which represents the fields of biology, ethics, medicine, and theology. The committee then issues a recommendation.

Andreas Kurtz, head of Center for Stem Cell Research Authorization at the RKI, told The Scientist that since July of last year, seven applications seeking approval to import embryonic stem cells have been filed. The five applications approved by the Koch Institute also...

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