The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced the creation of an embryonic stem cell bank and three centres of excellence for stem cells. The move comes amid increasing pressure from the scientific community against President Bush's stem cell policy, which limits the cell-lines available to federally-funded researchers.
The embryonic stem cell bank will store the 19 cell-lines created before 9 August 2001, and hence approved for federally funded research by Bush's government. Growing the lines in controlled conditions, the bank will provide stem cells for scientists at a tenth of the price. Meanwhile, the centres of excellence, costing the NIH $18 million over four years, will bring together the academic and medical researchers to harness stem cell's potential.
Tommy Thompson, secretary of the US Health and Human Services department, wrote in a letter to Congress that 'the President's stem cell policy holds tremendous and yet untapped potential', contending that 'before anyone can argue that the stem cell policy should be broadened, we must first exhaust [that] potential'.
This has not convinced the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR). Daniel Perry, the CAMR president, said the proposals will 'do nothing to remedy the flawed stem cell policy, whilst Sean Tipton of CAMR gave this analogy: 'It's a bit like giving a new paint job to a car without an engine. It's still not going to take you where you want to go.'
Sources and References
Coalition Calls Stem Cell Bank Idea 'Wholly Inadequate'
NIH To Open National Embryonic Stem Cell Bank To Advance Research on Stem Cell Lines Approved for Federal Funding
Research bank to grow limited stem-cell lines