Citing recent research advances, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) and other senators are urging President Bush to expand eligibility requirements for federal funding of human embryonic stem cells (HESC).

"With the discovery of a way to grow human stem cells without mouse cells, it is possible to use new stem cell lines that have never been exposed to mouse cells and are safe for use in humans," Specter wrote in an April 21 letter to the president.

Under existing policy, federal funds for HESC research are available only for a limited number of cell lines established before August 9, 2001. Of some 78 stem cell lines initially identified as meeting the eligibility criteria, only 11 lines are presently available for researchers, Specter noted. Many scientists and politicians have argued that this number inhibits meaningful research. And because the currently qualified stem cell lines have been grown using mouse feeder cells, there...

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