Along with mounting doubts as to the actual quantity of stem lines available for federally funded research, new concerns are mounting as to the ability of researchers to even use existing lines. According to scientific literature, all embryonic stem cell lines created thus far have been mixed with mouse cells, which nourish the human embryonic cells. This technique results in close contact between animal and human cells, exposing the stem cells to potentially dangerous animal viruses contained within the mice’s biological material. Scientists now worry that FDA guidelines, which currently address such issues, will render the current cell colonies ineligible for human clinical trials and/or restrict the types of patients who could participate in such trials.
Scientists continue to work on alternative methods to create embryonic stem cell colonies but are aware that any colonies created now would still not be eligible to apply in federally funding, since they were created after President Bush’s August 9th deadline. Few know if any appropriate colonies were actually created before that August 9, 2000 date, given that the location of the supposed 60 cell colonies has yet to be disclosed to the scientific community.
Stem cell research holds incredible potential for treatments for Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, certain cancers, and many other ailments. On August 9th, Bush agreed to severely limited federal-funding of stem cell research on 60 cell colonies he claimed were already in existence. Since then, scientists have made several attempts to get full disclosure from the White House and/or National Institutes of Health as to the location and availability of those colonies, as well more details on Bush’s new policy. Details have been slow to emerge.