NIH Issues Final Guidelines on Stem Cell Research


July 7, 2009 – 5:49 p.m.
By Jane Norman, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

*The National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued final guidelines for human stem cell research effective Tuesday, after fielding some 49,000 comments on how the research should be conducted.

The guidelines, which are close in form to earlier draft guidelines, were released following a March 9 executive order by President Obama that removed a ban on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research instituted by former President Bush. The guidelines would allow only use of stem cells from fertility clinic embryos that otherwise would be discarded, and the donors would have to give voluntary written consent for research. No payments, cash or in-kind, would be permitted for the donated embryos.

Older embryonic stem cell lines could be used if they complied with the new guidelines, or if material on how the embryos were derived is approved in a case-by-case review by NIH officials. There also will be a registry for stem cell lines to help scientists track which lines are permitted.

Human embryonic stem cells, under the NIH definition for the guidelines, are cells that are derived from the inner cell mass of blastocyst stage human embryos, are capable of dividing without differentiating for a prolonged period in culture and are known to develop into cells and tissues of the three primary germ layers.

Raynard Kington, acting director of NIH, said the final guidelines meet the president’s order by advancing the field of human embryonic stem cell research and raising the bar in terms of ethics. “We believe these guidelines are responsive to the public comments,” he added. Comments came from patient advocacy groups, scientists and scientific societies, academic institutions, medical organizations, religious organizations, private citizens and members of Congress.

NIH said in a statement that the new guidelines “help ensure that NIH-funded research in this area is ethically responsible, scientifically worthy and conducted in accordance with applicable law.”

Conservatives said their concerns about the guidelines were ignored. “Embryonic stem cell research requires dissecting and commoditizing the youngest, most vulnerable humans, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement. “The new guidelines demanded by the president promote poor science, reflect bad health care policy and do nothing to fund treatments with adult stem cells that are providing documented benefits for suffering patients.”


Please click the links below for more information

Hadassah Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center

Human Embryonic Stem Cells Reduce Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms In Mice



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