Stem Cell Comments Top 49,000

The National Institutes of Health has received 49,015 comments on its proposed guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research, "and we're reading them all," said Lana Skirboll, policy office chief, yesterday at an NIH advisory committee meeting. (The roughly 30-day comment period ended 26 May.) NIH "will be making adjustments" to the policy, said NIH acting director Raynard Kington. The main concern of scientists is that many existing lines may not meet the strict ethical criteria in the draft guidelines. NIH expects to issue final guidelines by 7 July .

Surprisingly, that flood of input is not a record for an NIH proposal. Skirboll thinks the agency received roughly the same number of comments, if not more, when it last issued draft guidelines for stem cell research in 1999.