Demand Continues for More Human Embryonic Stem Cell Lines

Bioethics   |   David Prentice, Ph.D.   |   Jul 3, 2011   |   2:46PM   |   Washington, DC

For those keeping count, the NIH embryonic stem cell registry (the list of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines approved to receive federal taxpayer funding) now lists a total of 128 hESC lines. Previously NIH Director Francis Collins had been approving lines slowly, but on a regular basis.

Following an initial burst of approvals starting in December 2009 and January 2010 that led to 42 hESC lines approved for federal taxpayer funding. In March 2010 there were 44 hESC lines that had been approved, and in June 2010 there were 75 approved lines.

There were only 93 approved hESC lines on June 3, 2011. But June has been a banner month to approve hESC lines for the federal funding trough. NIH has added a number of new hESC lines, including lines that have various genetic problems.

The current NIH guidelines provide an incentive to destroy more human embryos to make more hESC lines, as was pointed out in filings in the Sherley v. Sebelius federal lawsuit.

Interestingly, a recent Nature Medicine blog makes some of the same exact points as Drs. Sherley and Deisher, that there is continuing pressure for more hESC lines.