June 27, 2007

ACT creates embryonic stem cell line; keeps embryos alive

Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) announced in Nature Magazine in August of 2006 that they were creating embryonic stem cell lines from biopsied embyros. The headlines were a bit misleading, suggesting that this method did not result in the destruction of the embryos, when it did. Today, ACT announced at the fifth annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) in Cairns, Australia that they had created three separate embryonic stem-cell lines without actually destroying the biopsied embryos. These three embryos are still alive in a freezer. ACT is now calling upon NIH to fund research using these three stem-cell lines because their creation is compatible with President Bush's statement he made following his veto of a bill from Congress that would have expanded federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. While I applaud ACT's creativity in trying to work within the current US regulatory limits on embryonic stem-cell research, I'm curious what ACT plans to do with these frozen embryos. Will they ever be gestated, or will they just remain "undestroyed" for the next few decades? Another question that bugs me: who actually "owns" these embryos? If they are gestated and born, will they have "registered trademarked" stamped on their foreheads?

-Andrea Kalfoglou

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