NIH halts intramural human embryonic stem cell research

The NIH has stopped all human embryonic stem cell research being conducted on its campus, in response to the August 23 injunction on all such research.

According to Science:

The agency has eight research projects that use hESCs, most if not all of which use lines approved under the Bush Administration, say NIH officials. It also has a unit that characterizes lines added to the NIH registry of approved hESC lines.

That Science story also contains the complete text of the email sent to NIH scientists.

Scientists who have received NIH funds for human embryonic stem cell research grants have been told that they can continue to use those funds, however new funds will be suspended. The NIH is also not reviewing new grant applications for human embryonic stem cell projects, and is no longer reviewing new stem cell lines for its registry.

The story goes on to say:

But some biomedical research lobbyists worry that that interpretation of the ruling may have been too optimistic, and a shutdown of all ongoing NIH-funded hESC research could be imminent.

A Stanford Scope blog entry by Krista Conger quotes Stanford School of Medicine Dean and CIRM governing board member Philip Pizzo as saying:

Once again the politics of stem cell research has the prospect of entering center stage – just when it seemed that we had moved into a new theater.

CIRM’s funding of all types of stem cell research – adult, cancer, iPS and embryonic – is not altered by the federal injunction. You can see all CIRM-funded grants using human embryonic stem cells in this searchable table.

Halting research using human embryonic stem cells has wide-ranging effects, as this CBS news story about childhood leukemia makes clear.