Feeds

Scientists sideline Bush opposition to stem cell research

Harvard plans to cure disease with private cash

Security for virtualized datacentres

Harvard scientists have said they will bypass President Bush's moratorium on state funding of embryonic stem cell research by using privately sourced cash.

It's thought it will be the first non-commercial enterprise to work on human embryos in the US. An executive order from Bush in 2001 banned the use of public money for research on human embryonic stem cells other than just 22 old lines which have since been branded useless because of contamination.

Teams at Harvard will use millions of dollars of private donations from foundations, hospitals, institutions and individuals to fund academic projects to make new lines. Harvard Provost Steven E Hyman said: "Creating disease and patient specific stem cell lines is essential if we are to fulfill the promise of stem cell research."

Two groups will work on creating new human stem cell lines derived from surplus IVF embryos. They will work towards using the cells to treat diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and blood disorders.

Embryonic stem cells are the "master" cells that divide and specialise into every type in the adult body. Scientists have shown in animals they have enormous potential for repairing damaged and diseased tissues.

The plan is to use the cloning technology behind the creation of Dolly the sheep, somatic nuclear transfer, to create cells that are tailored to specific diseases, and even individual patients. DNA from patients will be transferred into a fertilised egg, which is then allowed to divide to grow stem cells which can then be transferred back into the patient. Because they are bespoke to the patient's genetics, cells should repair damage better.

The disgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk falsely claimed to have achieved somatic nuclear transfer in human embryos. The Harvard scientists could now be the first to the milestone.

Making his executive order in 2001, Bush made his opposition to the techniques clear. He said: "Researchers are telling us the next step could be to clone human beings to create individual designer stem cells, essentially to grow another you."

Responding to the firestorm still surrounding the field in America, one of the lead researchers on the new project, Douglas A Melton, said: "The reality of the suffering of those individuals far outweighs the potential of [embryos] that would never be implanted and allowed to come to term even if we did not do this research"

Ethics review boards considered the research proposals for "more than two years". Harvard President Lawrence H Summers said: "While we understand and respect the sincerely held beliefs of those who oppose this research, we are equally sincere in our belief that the life-and-death medical needs of countless suffering children and adults justifies moving forward with this research."

A bipartisan congressional delegation to the UK expressed similar views last week and said the US was falling behind in the field. The Senate is due to vote on a bill, already passed by the House of Representatives, which could override Bush's decision against funding research. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
NASA eyeballs SOLAR HEAT BOMBS, MINI-TORNADOES and NANOFLARES on Sun
Astro boffins probe fiery star's hidden depths
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.