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Stem Cell Decision Opens New Doors, May Spur More Research
Date:7/15/2009

Some avenues of scientific inquiry remain unfunded, however,,

WEDNESDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced last week their new guidelines for stem cell research funding, including allowing some previously ineligible stem cell lines to receive federal grants, provided they were obtained in an ethical manner.

But, will these new rules really expand the field of stem cell research and help find new treatments, possibly even cures, for devastating diseases?

"I think that everybody felt that when President Obama issued the executive order [on stem cell research in March], the most important thing was to expand the ability to investigate more lines," said Story Landis, head of the NIH stem cell task force, and director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. And, estimates place the number of potential new stem cell lines at around 700.

Stem cells -- embryonic and adult -- offer promise in the treatment of numerous diseases, such as macular degeneration, spinal cord injury, Parkinson's disease, type 1 diabetes, Lou Gehrig's disease and heart disease, among others.

Alan Lewis, president and CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, said, "At JDRF, we've long been supporters of encouraging stem cell research. Opening up the opportunities to get grant funding is really going to be critical to great progress in diabetes and other diseases."

One good example of how these new guidelines may help researchers is the inclusion of what's known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, Landis said.

"The 21 lines that were eligible under President Bush only included embryos from people who were genetically normal," he said. "But since then, a number of investigators have generated lines from pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) that were determined to carry a gene defect, which is important for studying diseases like cys
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