Friday, April 17, 2009

Stanford's Weissman Flays Proposed NIH hESC Regs

The NIH's proposed hESC regulations were hardly off the presses today before they came under fire from an eminent stem cell researcher for flying in the face of President Obama's March proclamation on stem cell research.

Irv Weissman
(pictured), director of stem cell research at Stanford, took on the NIH in a news release from the Stanfod School of Medicine.

Weissman said,
"Instead of facts, the NIH placed its own version of ethics in place of the president’s clear proclamation. As head of the National Academy of Sciences' panel that unanimously endorsed research using SCNT, and as a drafter of the guidelines for the International Society for Stem Cell Research, I know that this suggested ban on federal funding of SCNT-derived human embryonic stem cell lines is against our policies and against President Obama’s March 9 comments. The NIH has not served its president well."
The news release continued,
"'I am happy that these are draft guidelines,” said Weissman, who noted that the NIH did not solicit input from either the National Academy of Sciences or the International Society for Stem Cell Research during the consensus process. 'I’d like to remind the NIH of the principles enunciated by the president on March 9. Research in this area is moving very fast, and it’s not possible to say whether advances will come from work on adult-derived iPS cells or from embryonic stem cells created by nuclear transfer. Policy needs to be developed as the field develops, rather than precluding something based on ideology.'"
Across San Francisco Bay in Oakland, the Center for Genetics and Society praised the regulations,

Its news release said,
"Cloning-based stem cell research lays the technical foundation for human reproductive cloning - which the U.S., unlike dozens of other countries, has not yet prohibited - and requires enormous numbers of human eggs, whose extraction poses health risks to women. Despite years of work, no researcher has created a clonal human embryo viable enough to yield stem cells," said Jesse Reynolds, policy analyst at the Center. "In contrast, alternative methods of cellular reprogramming have largely achieved the goals of cloning-based work. The NIH was wise in leaving such risky work outside the domain of federal funding."
The group did not address CIRM's position on the proposed rules, but it has been an advocate of strong national standards. Sphere: Related Content

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