Embryonic stem cell ban leads to “confusion”

Here’s a round-up of stories on the ESC ruling. For a list of some of the NIH-funded projects in the state, see Nature Network Boston.

The Boston Globe

Kevin Casey, Harvard University’s associate vice president for governmental relations told the Globe that he ruling will “slow progress that so many who suffer afflictions are relying on.’’ But, he added, the university remained optimistic that the courts will ultimately validate the use of federal money for expanded embryonic stem cell research.

Dr. Leonard Zon, director of the stem cell program at Children’s Hospital Boston, called yesterday’s ruling a “step backward.’’

“It throws things into a confused state,’’ he said.


The ruling came as a shock to scientists at the National Institutes of Health and at universities across the country, which had viewed the Obama administration’s new policy and the grants provided under it as settled law. Scientists scrambled Monday evening to assess the ruling’s immediate impact on their work.

“I have had to tell everyone in my lab that when they feed their cells tomorrow morning, they better use media that has not been funded by the federal government,” said Dr. George Q. Daley, director of the stem cell transplantation program at Children’s Hospital Boston, referring to food given to cells. “This ruling means an immediate disruption of dozens of labs doing this work since the Obama administration made its order.”

Wall Street Journal

Evan Snyder, director of the stem cells and regenerative biology program at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif., called the ruling “an astounding blow to American biomedical research and to health care.”

LA Times

Advanced Cell Technology Inc. is using the cells to grow retinal pigment epithelium cells that restored vision in rats and mice with a rare childhood disease called Stargardt’s macular dystrophy. The Santa Monica-based company has asked the Food and Drug Administration for permission to use the cells in a clinical trial. But without any prospect of federal funding, the research would be in doubt, said Dr. Robert Lanza, the company’s chief scientific officer.

“This is criminal,” Lanza said. “We are talking about people going blind, people who are dying from a terrifying array of diseases.”


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