US National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins yesterday announced the addition of eight new human embryonic stem cells lines to the NIH’s registry, bringing up the total number of stem cell lines available for use in federally funded research to 75. The new lines were developed at the University of Connecticut, the University of New South Wales in Australia, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Advanced Cell Technology, a Santa Monica biotech company.
But Collins rejected 47 lines that were submitted by the Reproductive Genetics Institute in Chicago, saying that language in the consent forms was “inconsistent with the basic ethical principle of voluntary consent” because donors waived all rights to sue the clinic for any reason. The repudiation comes as a blow to many researchers, since the Chicago lines are known to carry mutations for a range of diseases from cystic fibrosis to muscular dystrophy.
We’ve covered the growth of the NIH registry since President Obama struck down the previous administration’s restrictions on which stem cell lines could be used for research. Here’s a video from Obama’s announcement of the executive order, which he signed last March: