Final Stem Cell Rules Are Out

Note: This item has been corrected to indicate that the draft rules were issued in April rather than March as previously reported.

The National Institutes of Health is holding a press conference at 1 p.m. EDT on its final guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research, but the rules quietly became public this morning. Draft rules issued in April after President Barack Obama lifted Bush-era restrictions set tough new informed consent criteria that many scientists feared would preclude the use of even the 21 stem cell lines approved by Bush in 2001. NIH will be establishing a stem cell registry so that individual institutions won't have the burden of determining whether a cell line is eligible for federal funding. Cell lines that predate the guidelines—and there are hundreds, in addition to the Bush lines—will be reviewed by an NIH advisory committee. Early reactions from scientists have been positive.