NIH readies new guidelines on stem cell research

For years stem cell researchers have complained that federal guidelines limited the number of embryonic stem cell lines they could work with to a tiny selection. But all of that is about to change.

In new draft rules developed by the NIH, the government is preparing to approve funding for projects that use cell lines derived from discarded embryos at fertility clinics. And the Obama administration is moving quickly to live up to a campaign pledge to broaden federal support for stem cell research.

"We will expand greatly the number of cell lines eligible for funding," said Raynard Kington, acting NIH director. "We know of several hundred cell lines that will meet the guideline standards." 

As the Wall Street Journal notes, though, there are some restrictions being left in place that could pose road blocks to researchers. Federal money will not be offered to researchers working with cell lines derived from cloned embryos, embryos created just for research purposes or through parthogenesis. But Kington says the NIH will keep its mind open as it continues to review the field in coming years.

- check out the report in the Wall Street Journal