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Health Agencies Update
January 19, 2000

Stem Cell Guidelines

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JAMA. 2000;283(3):325. doi:10.1001/jama.283.3.325-JHA90011-4-1

Researchers will be able to use federal research funds to study stem cells derived from human embryos as long as they follow strict criteria in obtaining the cells, according to draft guidelines released last month by the NIH.

Scientists hope to use pluripotent stem cells, which have the potential to develop into nearly any type of tissue, in biomedical research and for treating a variety of diseases. Human stem cell research has been controversial because such cells are derived from early embryos or fetal tissue.

The new guidelines would allow scientists to use federal funds for studies on human stem cells, but only if those cells were originally obtained from embryos by privately funded researchers who followed specific ethical requirements. For example, the source of the cells must be leftover frozen embryos created during fertility treatment, not embryos created for research purposes.

The guidelines, which are available online at http://www.nih.gov/news/stemcell/draftguidelines.htm, will be open for public comment until January 30, 2000. Written comments may be sent by mail (Stem Cell Guidelines, NIH Office of Science Policy, 1 Center Dr, Bldg 1, Bethesda, MD 20892), fax ([301] 402-0280), or e-mail (stemcell@mail.nih.gov).