Obama’s Christmas Present: More Embryonic Stem Cell Funding

Bioethics   |   David Prentice, Ph.D.   |   Dec 23, 2011   |   11:34AM   |   Washington, DC

Just in time for Christmas, NIH Director Francis Collins has approved more human embryonic stem cell lines for taxpayer funding, bringing the total number of hESC lines at the federal trough to 142.

Today’s approval is not all that surprising–the four new lines, from the University of Queensland, were recommended for approval by the Stem Cell Working Group at the December 9, 2011 meeting of the Director’s Advisory Committee. The Stem Cell Working group had also voted not to approve six lines from China.

The four new hESC linies that have been approved are not for clinical use, however. Subsequent to the meeting and before the latest approvals, NIH also approved two other hESC lines, from Mt. Sinai Hospital in Canada. Those two lines are also restricted:

NIH-funded research with this line may only be conducted at Mount Sinai Hospital and “other Canadian laboratories affiliated with the Canadian Stem Cell Network for further research or potential clinical use.”

In the meantime, the current and future patient benefits of adult stem cells continue to be ignored.