U.S. stem cell researchers confront uncertain financing and arcane restrictions

Mann, Charles C.
September 2005
Technology Review;Sep2005, Vol. 108 Issue 9, p44
The article focuses on the dilemma faced by stem cell researchers in line with the decision of the U.S. government to prohibit the use of federal money for stem cell research. On August 9, 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush was addressing the nation about embryonic-stem-cell-research. Extracting stem cells from an embryo unavoidably destroys it, and in 1996 the U.S. Congress prohibited the government from supporting embryo-destroying research. But despite this measure, scientists had found legal ways to obtain embryonic stem cells, and now some of the president's supporters were urging him to outlaw embryonic-stem-cell research entirely. But President Bush tried to find a middle ground. Arguing that scientists have already created more than 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines, he decided to allow federal funds to be used for research on these existing stem cell lines, where the life-and-death decision has already been made. Bush's apparently simple decision to withhold federal money inadvertently created an enormous regulatory maze that few scientists have managed to escape.


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