Skip to Content

New Stem Cell Lines Eligible for Federal Funding

For hundreds of scientists, embryonic stem cell research takes a step into the present.
December 2, 2009

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today that 13 new embryonic stem cell lines are now eligible for federal funding. That means that scientists with NIH grants can study embryonic stem cells derived using newer, more refined methods generally considered to be superior to the older ones. Ninety-six additional lines are also now under review.

“Those were early days in the science of stem cell research, and much has been learned since then,” said NIH director Francis Collins in a press conference on Wednesday, referring to the stem cell lines, created before 2001, that had previously been eligible for federal funding. “In the last eight years, hundreds of embryonic stem cell lines have been derived using non-federal funds, many of them carrying more favorable characteristics.”

As I wrote in a previous story:

Using only the old lines is like “being required to use Microsoft Word 1998,” says Jeanne Loring, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute, in La Jolla, CA.

The earlier lines were derived using animal products, making them largely unfit for therapeutic use. “There are hundreds of embryonic stem-cell lines out there that have been made under the best conditions, and some of them are patient ready,” says John Gearhart, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. “They have greater utility, performance, and safety than [the Bush-approved] lines.”

The announcement follows President Obama’s executive order made last March, enabling government support for embryonic stem cell research. That order overturned a previous one by President Bush in 2001, limiting federally-funded research to a set of existing cell lines. The 2001 decree forced scientists who wanted to create and use new stem cell lines, derived from leftover IVF embryos, to garner private funding.

Eleven of the 13 new lines were generated in George Daley’s lab at Children’s Hospital, in Boston, which used private funding to make them. According to the New York Times, “Dr. Daley said that private financing had been drying up and that he was eager to start research on the now-approved cell lines with the help of his federal grant money.” Researchers still cannot derive new lines using federal funds–creating new lines requires the destruction of an embryo.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

2021 tech fails concept
2021 tech fails concept

The worst technology of 2021

Face filters, billionaires in space, and home-buying algorithms that overpay all made our annual list of technology gone wrong.

glacier near Brown Station
glacier near Brown Station

The radical intervention that might save the “doomsday” glacier

Researchers are exploring whether building massive berms or unfurling underwater curtains could hold back the warm waters degrading ice sheets.

Professor Gang Chen of MIT
Professor Gang Chen of MIT

In a further blow to the China Initiative, prosecutors move to dismiss a high-profile case

MIT professor Gang Chen was one of the most prominent scientists charged under the China Initiative, a Justice Department effort meant to counter economic espionage and national security threats.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.