Federal funding for research involving human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) is moving closer to reality as the Bush administration rushes to finalize a public registry of approved cell line providers. In late August, the National Institutes of Health announced 10 organizations that it said had developed 64 stem cell lines that meet all the criteria for federal funding (see table). Nevertheless, some licensing and patent issues need to be resolved and new and potentially complicating questions are emerging about the standards of donor consent used by the stem cell providers outside the United States.

During the three weeks after President George W. Bush announced limited federal funding for human ESC research Aug. 9, NIH officials held virtually nonstop discussions, in person and by telephone, with the 10 potential stem cell line suppliers. To be eligible for federal funding, Bush said ESC lines had to be derived with informed consent of...

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