Monday, March 12, 2007

Do Stem Cells, Go to Jail

A Stanford law professor Monday told a group of stem cell scientists and businessmen and women in California that some of them would be subject to hard time in prison if they were sitting in South Dakota.

Henry Greely
used the example to illustrate the "bizarre patchwork" of stem cell regulation in the United States, which varies widely from state to state. Greely said that some of the stem cell activities that some members of his audience are engaged in would be illegal in South Dakota.

Greely, who heads a California advisory panel on stem cell regulations, pointed out that regulations and patent law vary widely also from country to country, posing possibilities for confusion and "offshore production" of stem cell products.

Speaking to The Stem Cell Meeting in San Francisco sponsored by Burrill & Company, Greely indicated that a Stanford researcher collaborating with a British scientist could possibly be breaching Stanford research rules -- if the British scientist did not have the same set of research standards. Failure to abide by Stanford's rules could result in professional discipline at the university.

Hope for standardized regulations is dim in the short term, he indicated. Even if a new president in 2009 liberalizes federal stem cell research rules, variations will continue to exist from state to state unless Congress passes a strong new law regulating the science.

Greely said the best hope for something like universal acceptance of embryonic stem cell research would be a well-publicized cure. Then, he said, "political and moral objections will evaporate like the morning mist."

Meanwhile, Greely advised his audience to consult their attorneys, pay careful attention to details and pool information about stem cell research. Sphere: Related Content

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