by Steven Ertelt
June 18
, 2010

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Obama administration is again proposing that taxpayers foot the bill for more embryonic stem cell research beyond what President Barack Obama’s executive order has already funded. That’s despite the fact that scientists are no closer to correcting problems with the cells to actually help patients.

Currently adult stem cell research has helped patients dealing with more than 100 different diseases and conditions.

On the other hand, embryonic stem cells have never been tried in humans because of problems in animal experiments with them causing tumors and the immune system rejecting them after injection for treatment.

Despite that, the NIH Working Group on Embryonic Stem Cells recommended last week that six more human embryonic stem cell lines be approved for federal taxpayer funding, bringing the total number of taxpayer-funded lines to 73.

NIH approved three Harvard lines on June 3, says Family Research Council advisor Dr. David Prentice, formerly an Indiana State University biology professor.

“The six lines recommended for approval are from the University of Connecticut (4 lines), University of New South Wales (1 line) and Advanced Cell Technology (ACT, 1 line),” Prentice explained. “ACT made their usual move of a premature press release, announcing approval.”

NIH Director Francis Collins still must make a final decision on the recommendation, but he typically goes along with the recommendations of the working group.

Prentice said the working group meeting procedure one surprise, with its decision to reject 47 lines submitted by the Reproductive Genetics Institute (RGI).

“But the reasoning was primarily that the consent forms, signed by the parents of the embryos sacrificed in the experiments, did not conform to NIH policy, by including exculpatory language,” he explained.

“On June 7, NIH published on their website a clarification regarding exculpatory language to be used in the consent forms for the parents. The Working Group noted that RGI simply needed to get new consent forms signed by the parents for reconsideration of these lines for approval,” Prentice noted.

Prentice also noticed that many of the RGI lines were from human embryos destroyed after pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) at their fertility clinic and that they had a genetic mutation.

These “diseased cell lines” thus might be of interest to some labs, he said.

“How many might actually use such cells is hard to say. Whether many labs would use such cells is doubtful, though, especially given that any lab can make its own disease-specific lines using the induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS cell) technique, as many labs have already done,” Prentice said.

Prentice says there is still no word on when NIH will address its proposed changes in its Guidelines in which it “proposed to broaden definitions so as to include more embryos as potential experimental subjects.”

“All of this continues to push political science rather than real science to benefit patients now, with adult stem cells,” he concluded.


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