The NIH guidelines in effect as of 7 July don’t specify exactly which human embryonic stem cell lines can be studied with federal funding, but researchers are still pleased. Not only will more lines be eligible for funding, now the NIH has said it will make the time-consuming call of whether embryos used to create lines were donated under fundable criteria (appropriate informed consent, creation for reproductive purposes, donated without financial inducements.) That’s a huge relief for ethics committees at individual universities that might otherwise do redundant, difficult work.
New lines must follow specific informed-consent criteria described in the 2009 guidelines. For existing lines, researchers may seek review from experts assembled by the NIH. I’m assuming that at least some decisions will be made by September, when NIH will award the new funds from the stimulus package.
For these decisions, the NIH will be paying attention to an analysis last year found that some of the lines eligible for funding under President Bush did not meet criteria for informed consent.
See Consent issues restrict stem-cell research (shorter, by subscription to Nature)
When the past catches up with the present(free from Nature Reports Stem Cells, detailed)
Scientists seem delighted. See coverage from Nature (will need a subscription after 15 July), the http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/science/07stem.html?_r=1
, and a blog from Newsweek .
Also, an editorial from Nature.