The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the addition of 13 lines to its Stem Cell Registry. The news was cheered by the research community, as the two most widely studied lines— H7 (WA07) and H9 (WA09) owned by the WiCell Research Institute of Madison—were included in the batch approved by NIH director Francis Collins. The total number of NIH-approved human embryonic cell lines in the registry, and thus eligible for federal funding, has risen to 64 as of April 29. These recent approvals ease frustrations among scientists who watched President Obama's March 9, 2009 Executive Order—welcomed at the time and intended to remove barriers for such research—later backfire when NIH insisted that cell lines used during the George W. Bush presidency be reevaluated under revised ethical guidelines that NIH began following in July 2009 (Nat. Biotechnol. 27, 681, 2009). Playing down the vociferous complaints since then, Collins says the approvals this April should enable researchers to “continue their studies without interruption, and we can all be assured that valuable work will not be lost.” Even though Collins seems to discount projects that were disrupted during that interval, NIH-supported human embryonic stem cells research now is poised to get back on track. The H7, H9 and other recent approvals are indeed a “huge relief,” says bioethicist Christopher Scott, who directs the Program on Stem Cells and Society at Stanford University.
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Regenerative Medicine (2011)