zerhouni_kingston0305The rules, the agency said, lay out which research is eligible for federal funding and help “ensure that NIH-funded research in this area is ethically responsible, scientifically worthy and conducted in accordance with applicable law.”

It might be pointed out as an achievement, that many of us who have fought for the rights for embryonic stem cell (ES). We may say that Obama gave the green signal, and the new guidelines has strengthened the foundation. And many more awaits as ES cell research will advance in the coming days.

According to Dr. Raynard S. Kingston, the acting Director of National Institute of Health, has announced that from Tuesday, 7th July, 2009, all the researchers in order to create new cell lines involving ES cells must abide by the new guidelines. Also he added that the previously created cell lines, which were not eligible to be used in days of Bush administrations may also apply for a review for obtaing approval. If it qualifies the ethical technicality according to the new guidelines, research involving those cells will also be funded.

Now before going into further details lets move on and see what were the features and controversy of these ES cells.

  • Stem cells are the body’s master cells, the source of all cells and tissue, including brain, blood, heart, bones and muscles.
  • Embryonic stem cells come from days-old embryos and can produce any type of cell in the body.
  • Scientists generally harvest embryonic stem cells from embryos left over after in vitro fertilization attempts at fertility clinics. They can also be produced using cloning technology but the new U.S. rules allow for federal funding only of work on surplus IVF embryos.
  • Scientists hope to harness the transformational qualities of stem cells to treat a variety of diseases, including injuries, cancer and cystic fibrosis.
  • The issue is controversial because some people believe the destruction of any human embryo is wrong.
  • Several companies are pursuing stem cell research including Geron Corp. which last week teamed up with General Electric Co to use stem cells to test new drugs for toxicity.
  • Other companies involved in stem cell research include Stemcells Inc., Advanced Cell Technology, NeuralStem, Aastrom Biosciences Inc., Reneuron Group Plc., Thermogenesis, Osiris Therapeutics Inc, Neostem Inc., Cytori Therapeutics Inc., iZumi Bio Inc., and International Stem Cell Corporation.
  • U.S. legislation called the Dickey Amendment forbids the use of federal funds for the creation or destruction of human embryos for research, but new U.S. policy allows federally funded researchers to work with cells someone else had taken from an embryo.
  • The issue does not fall clearly along party lines and some conservative Republicans who oppose abortion have backed broader federal funding of embryonic stem cell research for years.
  • Britain, Belgium, Sweden, Canada and New Zealand encourage embryonic stem cell research. Austria, Lithuania and Poland have laws banning most human embryonic stem cell research.
  • Researchers have discovered how to make embryonic-like cells from ordinary cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells. Opponents of embryonic stem cell research say research can focus on this field, but most scientists agree that all approaches must be pursued.

nihBush barred federal funding from supporting work on new lines of stem cells derived from human embryos in 2001, allowing research only on a small number of embryonic stem cell lines that existed at the time.

Using human embryos for scientific research, which often involves their destruction, crossed a moral barrier and urged scientists to consider alternatives, the former president argued.

In reversing the ban, the Obama administration argued that the promise of medical breakthroughs through stem cell research could not go unexplored.

Many researchers have been awaiting the NIH guidelines to design research projects that would be eligible for federal funding.

barack_obamaThe NIH received some 49,000 comments from patient advocacy groups, scientists, medical groups and other interested parties before issuing the guidelines.

“Many of the lines already in existence may have met very rigorous standards of informed consent but may have been implemented in ways not consistent with the present guidelines,” Dr. Kington said. “It’s unreasonable to retroactively apply procedures intended for future use.”

With this new amendments we can surely remain hopeful that almost all the barriers are being broken down, for a smooth walk for ES cell research. We will remain optimistic about the results.