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George Daley to discuss challenges and opportunities facing stem cell scientists
Date:2/20/2010

The United States government's decision last year to lift restrictions on federally-funded stem cell research has helped the nation's stem-cell researchers concentrate on science, but limitations remain even under the new policy, according to George Daley, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Children's Hospital Boston.

Daley's presentation at the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego, Calif., on February 20, 2010 will describe the current climate facing stem cell researchers in the United States. He will also discuss his current viewpoint on whether induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) -- which are derived from adult cells will have the same potential therapeutic utility as human embryonic stem cells.

Human embryonic stem cells have the remarkable capacity to mature into all of the 200 kinds of cells that make up the human body: skin, bone, nerve, blood, heart, and so on. By this nature, the cells hold great promise for treating devastating diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer, and diabetes. However, some consider human embryonic stem cell research controversial because, in some cases, the new stem cell lines are derived frozen human embryos that have been donated for research. New strategies have been recently developed that circumvent this issue by genetically reprogramming adult cells.

On March 9, 2009, President Obama lifted the ban that had previously restricted the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research on cell lines that had been created after August 9, 2001. "Over a thousand lines have been derived since August 9, 2001, many with attributes beneficial to medical research," says Daley, whose own lab has derived 18 new stem cell lines. Until the change in policy, these lines could only be studied with private funds. Obama called upon the National Institutes of Health to set up rigorous guidelines to ensure that new stem cells lines were derived by ethical practices.

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Contact: Jennifer Michalowski
michalow@hhmi.org
301-215-8576
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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