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New Federal Stem Cell Rules Would Hinder Existing Research, Consumer Group Warns
Date:5/20/2009

NIH Should Fix Standards to Allow Use of Current Stem Cell Lines

SANTA MONICA, Calif., May 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- -- Regulations governing stem cell research proposed by the Obama Administration -- unless modified before final implementation on July 1 -- prohibit federal funding of important research that had received funding under the Bush Administration, Consumer Watchdog said today. The nonpartisan, nonprofit group called on the National Institutes of Health to change the draft regulations.

On March 9, President Obama signed an executive order intended to lift restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. As part of the order, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were directed to develop regulations "to help ensure that NIH-funded research in this area is ethically responsible, scientifically worthy, and conducted in accordance with applicable law."

"Most of us were heartened when President Obama lifted Bush Administration restrictions on funding stem cell research, but the perverse effect of these proposed NIH rules is that the limited research scientists were able to conduct under Bush will now be ineligible for federal funding," said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Stem Cell Project Director. "Certainly this is not what President Obama intended and the regulations must be modified."

Bush allowed the NIH to fund research on embryonic stem cell lines that were derived before 9 pm, Aug. 9, 2001. In practice there were about 20 lines that were available to scientists that qualified for federal money. Embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to develop into virtually any cell in the body, are derived from embryos left over from in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments and would otherwise be destroyed.

The Bush approved stem cell lines were derived before the proposed NIH rules and do not meet some o
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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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