National Stem Cell Bank Now Holds All 21 Lines

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According to the Associated Press, the U.S. National Stem Cell Bank (NSCB) says it now has all 21 lines of embryonic stem cells which have been approved for use in federally funded research. The NSCB’s website has not been update to reflect this as of January 12, 2008. The bank is reported to have recently received deposits of the last two cell lines from Cellartis AB, a iotechnology company based in Sweden.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the bank at the WiCell Research Institute in 2005. It was established to obtain, study and distribute the 21 lines to researchers. All six providers of those lines were invited to deposit their cells into the bank after it was established. Once stem cell lines are deposited, the line becomes more widely available for research.

Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. These cells serve as a sort of repair system for the body. They can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.

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To be eligible for federal funding, the guidelines established on August 9, 2001, by President George W Bush must be followed. On that date, he announced his decision to allow Federal funds to be used for research on existing human embryonic stem cell lines as long as prior to his announcement (1) the derivation process (which commences with the removal of the inner cell mass from the blastocyst) had already been initiated and (2) the embryo from which the stem cell line was derived no longer had the possibility of development as a human being.

In addition, the President established the following criteria that must be met:

* The stem cells must have been derived from an embryo that was created for reproductive purposes;
* The embryo was no longer needed for these purposes;
* Informed consent must have been obtained for the donation of the embryo;
* No financial inducements were provided for donation of the embryo.

Sources
National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Stem Cell Bank
Associated Press

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