On Dec. 2, the National Institutes of Health approved the use of 13 lines of stem cells under a new policy that will dramatically expand the resources available for regenerative biomedical research. With the approval of the lines, $20 million in new stem-cell research funded by 30 new grants can now go forward.
At a reception put on by patients and biomedical research advocates celebrating his appointment as NIH director, Francis Collins spoke about the decision. Saying that he had signed the order at 8:30 a.m. that morning, he noted that all of the 13 lines conformed to the informed-consent requirements stipulated under the NIH’s new policy.
On March 9, President Obama issued an executive order entitled “Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells,” paving the way for yesterday’s announcement. After receiving thousands of comments from the public, the NIH issued new regulations on human stem-cell research in July.
The approval of the lines may be just the beginning. An additional 96 lines been submitted for review. Twenty of those that have been studied by the Working Group for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Eligibility Review will be considered at the Dec. 4 meeting of the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director. Collins must approve all stem-cell lines for NIH-funded research.