Obama Makes Taxpayers Fund More Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   David Prentice, Ph.D.   |   Jan 13, 2012   |   11:23AM   |   Washington, DC

NIH Director Francis Collins has approved four more human embryonic stem cell lines as eligible for federal taxpayer funding. The latest approval brings the total to 146.

The four new lines are all from UCLA. The new lines, designated by the deriving lab as “UCLA 7″, “UCLA 8″, “UCLA 9″, and “UCLA 10″, join six previous UCLA lines approved by NIH for taxpayer funding–UCLA 1-3 approved April 27, 2010 and UCLA 4-6 approved February 3, 2011. All of the lines were apparently derived from human embryos after the new NIH guidelines went into effect in July 2009. NIH doesn’t provide details on the cells themselves or their derivation.

Previously, just in time for Christmas, NIH Director Francis Collins approved more lines. That approval was 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, Adult Stem Cells continue to provide the gold standard for patient treatment, and the only stem cell type with published positive results at improving health and saving lives.