Human embryonic stem cell lines are cultures of human cells. Many scientists believe in their potential to cure diseases and repair human tissues. Beginning in 2001, President Bush limited federal funding for stem cell research to only those few cell lines approved by him.
Richard Hynes: The cell lines that Bush had approved are really not very good. And so the people who have been able to work on them with federal funding – they were inhibited by the fact that they weren’t dealing with the best cells that they should have been.
That’s MIT professor Richard Hynes, who in 2005 helped the U.S. National Academy of Sciences create guidelines for stem cell use. He’s speaking about President Barack Obama’s 2009 move to lift Bush’s limits on stem cell research.
Richard Hynes: They’ll now be able to do that, to work on all these multiple cell lines that are out there and will be approved. And it will be more funding for more people.
Bush had approved 21 already-existing stem cell lines. In 2009, the National Institutes of Health is considering the use of about 700 new cell lines, Hynes said.
Richard Hynes: Those lines can be available to anyone who requests them. In many cases, scientists will make lines available to other people, so everyone can use the best materials. And that’s what will be possible now.
Over the past few years, scientists continued to use private funding to create new stem cell lines. Hynes said the new federal regulations will increase the pace of progress in stem cell research. For example, the increased number of stem cell lines will let scientists in different labs compare results.
Our thanks to:
Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research,
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Learning to love science. As a producer for EarthSky, Lindsay Patterson interviews some of the world's most fascinating scientists. Through EarthSky, her work content is syndicated on some of the world's top media websites, including USAToday.com and Reuters.com. Patterson is also charged with helping to stay in steady communication with the thousands of scientists who contribute to EarthSky's work of making the voice of science heard in a noisy world. She graduated from Colorado College with a degree in creative writing, and a keen interest in all forms of journalism and media.