Stem Cell :: ACT Applauds NIH Plan to Implement President Bush’s Stem Cell Executive Order

On Tuesday, September 18, 2007, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it would begin implementing President George W. Bush’s Executive Order to explore methods to expand the number of approved pluripotent stem cell lines “without creating a human embryo for research purposes or destroying, discarding, or subjecting to harm a human embryo or fetus.”

This announcement follows an Executive Order issued by President Bush on June_20, 2007, requiring that “The Secretary of Health and Human Services … conduct and support research on the isolation, derivation, production, and testing of stem cells that are capable of producing all or almost all of the cell types of the developing body and may result in improved understanding of or treatments for diseases and other adverse health conditions, but are derived without creating a human embryo for research purposes or destroying, discarding, or subjecting to harm a human embryo or fetus.”

ACT’s groundbreaking Single Cell Biopsy technique was cited by the NIH as an alternative method in its implementation plan—a technique successfully demonstrated by Robert Lanza, M.D., Vice President of Research and Scientific Development at Advanced Cell Technology, and his team. The NIH plan calls for “aggressively pursuing an assessment of the potential of alternative sources of pluripotent stem cell lines, including altered nuclear transfer; single cell embryo biopsy, and reprogramming, or dedifferentiation of somatic cells, such as skin cells.”

In August 2006, ACT published a paper in Nature documenting the technique for removing a single cell (known as a blastomere) from an eight-cell human embryo, and using that cell to generate multiple human embryonic stem cells without destroying the embryo. The NIH referred to ACT’s Nature article in its implementation plan. In June of this year, ACT announced that it had successfully produced 4 human embryonic stem cell lines without destroying the embryos at its lab in Worcester, Massachusetts. The embryo from which the cell was removed remains cryogenically preserved and remains a viable embryo. Should the company’s blastomere technique satisfy NIH qualifications, ACT could qualify for federal funding from the NIH.

“Our single cell blastomere technology directly addresses the President’s ethical concerns and, unlike the other potential solutions described in the order, is available today. We are encouraged by the NIH’s willingness to explore ways to increase the federally approved stem cell lines available and hope they will consider our technique for federal funding,” remarked William M. Caldwell IV, Chairman and CEO of Advanced Cell Technology. “We believe that such consideration reflects the will of the American people to bring novel therapies derived from stem cell research to patients with few or no alternatives.”

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