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

tic fibrosis. In PGD, a couple prepares for in-vitro fertilization, and it's possible to take one cell from a really early embryo to let you know which embryos are fine, and which carries two copies, in this case of a cystic fibrosis gene. While it's been possible to make lines from those embryos prior to this decision, they weren't eligible for federal money before, but they are now."

Added Meri Firpo, an assistant professor at The Stem Cell Institute at the University of Minnesota: "Now everyone can work with these PGD lines, and this will bring a lot more people into doing research with these cells, which may move progress faster."

Under the Bush administration rules, because so few stem cell lines were available for federal research funding, separate laboratories had to be set up, as well as separate accounting systems to ensure that equipment costs and salaries for research paid for by federal money weren't used to conduct research on unapproved stem cell lines. Not surprisingly, some researchers decided to forgo stem cell research because of these restrictions.

However, the actual creation of stem cell lines is still something that can't be done with federal funding, Firpo said. Once the lines have been created -- if they're deemed to have been created in an ethical manner and they pass NIH review -- then the lines can be used for federal research.

Additionally, researchers can't use federal money for research from embryos created solely for research.

"The federal government is opening the door, but the door isn't wide open," said Susan Solomon, chief executive officer of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, a private organization that funds stem cell research.

Whether the NIH ever revisits its decision on controversial techniques for creating stem cells, Solomon said there will always likely be a need for private and state funding for stem cell research because obtaining a federal grant is a slow p
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