US, August 29. The US National Institutes of Health has finally issued its long-awaited guidelines governing federally funded research with stem cells from human embryos. As expected, the guidelines are something of an exercise in ethical hair-splitting. The NIH says it will consider grant applications for this work provided the researchers (a) use cells only from frozen surplus embryos that would otherwise have been discarded by privately supported fertility clinics; and (b) do not derive the cells from said embryos themselves, but rely on supplies from privately funded scientists.

The guidelines clear the way — perhaps — for US biomedical scientists to use public money for the kind of research privately funded US researchers embarked on more than two years ago. In addition to permitting research only on surplus embryos, the new rules forbid embryo donors to be paid or to specify who can obtain their embryo's stem cells. The...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?