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NIH May Ease Some, But Not All, Stem Cell Restrictions
Date:4/17/2009

Agency says cells should come from fertility clinic embryos that otherwise would be discarded

FRIDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists hoping to use U.S. funding for embryonic stem cell research must use cells from fertility clinic embryos that otherwise would be discarded, the National Institutes of Health announced Friday.

The proposed guidelines exclude more controversial research -- such as using stem cells taken from embryos created for science -- in favor of a limit with broad congressional support, the Associated Press reported.

The public will have one month to comment on the guidelines before the NIH issues final rules by early July, the news service said.

"We think this will be a huge boost for the science," said Acting NIH Director Raynard Kington. "This was the right policy for the agency at this point in time."

But some researchers will be disappointed with Friday's announcement, hoping they would gain wider access to a broader variety of cells, the AP said.

The new guidelines also require that the woman or couple who donate the original embryo give proper informed consent, without pressure from scientists. And the guidelines forbid some types of research using human embryonic stem cells -- such as mixing them with embryos from monkeys and other primates, the AP said.

Dr. R. Dale McClure, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said his group was "pleased" with the proposed new rules.

"Federally funded scientists will soon be able to put forward research proposals to help us unlock the full potential of human embryonic stem cells," McClure said in a statement. "That work may eventually yield treatments for some of our most stubborn ailments; it may lead to a new set of research tools, but whatever direction the research points to, we are now closer to answers."

But another expert was more sparing
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