Breakthrough Stem Cell Discovery Off Limits to Many Researchers

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stemcellsIn May of 2013, scientists in California and Oregon made major breakthroughs when they were able to create human embryonic stem cells by cloning existing cells. It’s a major advancement in the war against fatal, devastating and life-altering diseases and medical events, including Alzheimer’s, stroke, lupus, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, and more. There’s only one problem – using the cloned stem cells is strictly off limits in labs across the United States.

Rules regarding cells derived from human embryos, including those created by way of nuclear transfer (cloning) forbid most US researchers from using or studying them. The regulations, which have been applied to not only labs, but funding bodies and research hospitals as well, greatly restrict what scientists can do with this major stem cell breakthrough.

Embryonic stem cells have long been thought to be the gateway to the future of medicine and disease treatment all over the world. But the National Institutes of Health, the organization responsible for funding most of the US stem cell research happening today, forbids the use of cells taken from any embryo that was created for the sole purpose of research, or of those cells produced from the eggs of paid donors.

Those regulations immediately rule out any research from California’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine or Oregon’s Health and Science University. The use of embryonic stem cells in research has been a heated source of controversy in the science and medical communities for some time now, and these new discoveries might be the impetus for reform and discussion of existing regulations.

(photo from NSF)

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