Much has been written about the new NIH draft guidelines for stem cell research — including a special section in Science this week and a perspective by Majumder and Cohen, ethicists from Baylor and Georgetown, respectively. Nature recently editorialized in its piece “Stem Cell Clarity.” In this week’s Nature Mayo Clinic bioethicist and researcher Jennifer McCormick, Ph.D., responds in an invited correspondence, We Must Reverse the Bush Legacy of Stem-cell Problems. Along with collaborators Chris Scott of Stanford and Jason Owen-Smith of Michigan, she cites their research data on usage and prevalence of the 18 lines available from the National Stem Cell Bank. The trio laments the lack of coherence and consistency under the Bush policies — specifically regarding diversity of cell types and “fragmented ethical oversight.” They call for an official national repository “containing an adequate number of high-quality, ethically derived, diverse lines.” Provenance of existing lines need to be carefully investigated, they urge, and they “suggest creation of a national clearing house specifically charged with certifying provenance” in hopes of including more of what may be 700 lines existing on the planet at the moment. In full disclosure, Dr. McCormick and I sit on Mayo’s Stem Cell Review Subcommittee, and we, along with everyone else, await announcement of the final guidelines, to be announced later this month.
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