Thursday, February 04, 2016

California Stem Cell Agency Not Now Financing Genetic Modification of Human Embryos

The $3 billion California stem cell agency is not currently backing research that involves genetic modification of human embryos, but its standards appear to allow that possibility. 

The agency discussed its research rules at its conference today on the controversial subject. One of the slides presented by the agency said that its research standards group's intent under current regulation was "to allow for in-vitro use of human embryos for research while prohibiting reproductive use."

Earlier this week, the California Stem Cell Report queried the agency about the extent of  human genetic modification in research financed by the agency. Kevin McCormack, senior director of communications for the agency, replied, 
"As for the number of awards involving human genetic modification that’s a large number, five of our clinical trials in HIV/AIDS and our work with Sickle Cell Anemia and Chronic Granulatomous use human genetic modification techniques and many other preclinical/translational research projects do as well. 
"I think what’s more important is that right now none of our awards involve the genetic modification of human embryos, and that’s obviously the goal of the workshop to see if this is something we should fund and under what circumstances and with what controls in place." 
Today's presentation also said that stem cell agency "rules on clinical use of gametes and embryo are consistent with the statement from the International Summit on Human Gene Editing and the Draft ISSCR Guidelines."

Here are the presentation slides from the agency.
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