Friday, September 28, 2007

Looking For Ways to Avoid the Stem Cell Egg Problem

A $25 million proposal to develop new lines of pluripotent human stem cells, including ones that do not require the use of human embryos or eggs, will come before the Oversight Committee of the California stem cell agency next week in San Diego.

The plan calls for as many as 16 research grants for periods of three years. Funding could come as early as next spring with the release of RFAs as early as this fall.

A CIRM staff report said,

"The ability to derive pluripotent stem cells from new sources will enable scientists to generate disease-specific and genotype-specific cells of many phenotypes. Such cells have great value for drug discovery and understanding specific disease mechanisms. Importantly, methods that will not require the donation or use of either human embryos or eggs will significantly reduce the moral and ethical concerns that surround methods currently in use. Finally, new methods of producing pluripotent stem cells will be particularly important because it may be difficult to obtain excess embryos from many racial groups.

"This RFA will support the generation of new lines of pluripotent human stem cells including:

"• new clinical grade lines of hESCs and other pluripotent human stem cells suitable for future clinical use or other biomedical applications

"• new hESC lines generated using improved methods that may be optimal for differentiation along selective lineages or for studies of disease

"• disease-specific, pluripotent stem cell lines to support the study of the effects of genetic variation on disease development and response to treatment

"• the discovery and implementation of alternative methods for generating pluripotent human cells"
The report also said,
"Awards will be made to support two areas of derivation: the generation of new human lines using excess embryos from in vitro fertilization, and derivations from other sources using new and novel methods."

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