Obama Administration Approves More Embryonic Stem Cells for Taxpayer Funding

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Obama Administration Approves More Embryonic Stem Cells for Taxpayer Funding

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 23
, 2010

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Obama administration is making American taxpayers fund yet another round of embryonic stem cells with taxpayer funds even though they have never helped any human patients because of problems in animal research. On Monday, NIH Director Francis Collins approved eight more embryonic stem cell lines for federal funding — including the six lines the Stem Cell Working Group signed off on last week.

The funding includes two lines from the Whitehead Institute.

Dr. David Prentice, the former Indiana State University biology professor who is now an advisor at the Family Research Council, explains more about the recent funding decision.

"If you’re wondering why only six of the eight were in the recommendation from the Working Group, keep in mind that human embryonic stem cell lines can meet funding approval in two ways according to the current NIH Guidelines," he said.

Prentice said lines derived after July 7, 2009 "must meet the prescriptive criteria in the Guidelines for destruction of the embryos, while lines derived before the Guidelines took effect are evaluated by the Working Group to determine if they met the spirit, if not the letter, of the destructive prescription."

With the latest embryonic stem cell research funding, this brings the total number of human embryonic stem cells lines approved for federal taxpayer funding to 75 since President Barack Obama overturned President George W. Bush’s executive order prohibiting taxpayer funding of new embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of human life.

"Of course, the total number of patients helped by embryonic stem cells is still zero, while adult stem cells are being used to treat over 50,000 patients a year," the biology professor said.

Currently adult stem cell research has helped patients dealing with more than 100 different diseases and conditions. On the other hand, embryonic stem cells have never been tried in humans because of problems in animal experiments with them causing tumors and the immune system rejecting them after injection for treatment.

Prentice said the working group meeting produced one surprise, with its decision to reject 47 lines submitted by the Reproductive Genetics Institute (RGI).

"But the reasoning was primarily that the consent forms, signed by the parents of the embryos sacrificed in the experiments, did not conform to NIH policy, by including exculpatory language," he explained.

"On June 7, NIH published on their website a clarification regarding exculpatory language to be used in the consent forms for the parents. The Working Group noted that RGI simply needed to get new consent forms signed by the parents for reconsideration of these lines for approval," Prentice noted.

Prentice also noticed that many of the RGI lines were from human embryos destroyed after pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) at their fertility clinic and that they had a genetic mutation.

These “diseased cell lines” thus might be of interest to some labs, he said.

"How many might actually use such cells is hard to say. Whether many labs would use such cells is doubtful, though, especially given that any lab can make its own disease-specific lines using the induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS cell) technique, as many labs have already done," Prentice said.


Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From LifeNews.com

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from LifeNews.com with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.