Sixty-four embryonic stem cell lines have been identified by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) as eligible for use in federally funded projects. Ten research centres and companies around the world hold these stem cell lines. Only four of these groups are in the US, with others in Australia, Sweden, Israel and India.
President Bush recently limited federally-funded stem cell research in the US to cell lines that are already in existence. He claimed that more than 60 such lines were in existence, a figure that many scientists challenged. The NIH has assured scientists that the 64 stem cell lines are 'genetically diverse', therefore providing enough variety for research.
Scientists in the US are also worried about access to the stem cell lines, including being able to use those covered by patents. The NIH said that it has been dealing with this issue and is 'working to help researchers gain access to the cells'. The NIH is establishing a registry to keep information about the cell lines, including their location and details about their derivation and growth progress. A spokesman said the agency is taking applications for funding and hopes to award the first grants early next year.
Sources and References
NIH identifies 64 stem cell colonies
Update on existing human embryonic stem cells