CIRM Clarifies Position on Use of NIH-Approved human embryonic stem cell lines

San Francisco, Calif., March 29 – The Governing Board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state stem cell agency created by Proposition 71, clarified that when it adopted the Medical and Ethical Standards in August 2006, the intent was that all NIH-approved human embryonic stem cell lines at that time should be available, and remain available, to CIRM-funded researchers.

Since March 2009, when President Obama asked the NIH to review its policy for approving human embryonic stem cell lines, there has been confusion among CIRM grantees over the status of the original NIH registry lines, approved under President Bush. These Bush-era lines were not automatically approved under the new NIH regulations, leaving some ambiguity about their use by CIRM grantees. Under this clarification, CIRM grantees can work with all hESC lines that were approved when the 2006 decision was made, and all additional lines being approved under the new NIH policy.

About CIRM: CIRM was established in November 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. The statewide ballot measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions, was overwhelmingly approved by voters, and called for the establishment of an entity to make grants and provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research opportunities. To date, the CIRM governing board has approved 328 research and facility grants totaling more than $1 billion, making CIRM the largest source of funding for human embryonic stem cell research in the world. Estimates suggest that these grants already awarded will generate tens of thousands of job-years of employment in the state.

Don Gibbons