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Draft Stem Cell Guidelines Threaten Research 206

Posted by kdawson
from the retroactively-applied-ethics dept.
Death Metal suggests we peruse a piece up at Wired on how the Obama administration's draft guidelines for stem cell research could invalidate hundreds of cell lines. "Under the Obama administration's proposed rules for funding embryonic stem cell research, hundreds of existing cell lines could be ineligible, even those that qualified under President Bush. The guidelines were written by the National Institutes of Health and are currently in draft form and expected to be finalized in July. But in their current state, they restrict funding to stem cell lines produced according to new rules that are only now being established. Few existing cell lines will meet those requirements. 'The so-called Presidential lines aren't suitable for actual medical application,' said Patrick Taylor, deputy counsel at Children's Hospital Boston, who criticized the NIH guidelines in a paper published Thursday in Cell Stem Cell. 'But we're talking about many, many more lines. The new lines were created with extensive ethical oversight. They're at stake here.'"
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Draft Stem Cell Guidelines Threaten Research

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  • And... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazztastic (814296) <spazztastic@@@gmail...com> on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:25AM (#27968521)

    And this is why I was so cynical about the election. It's the same old business as usual.

    • Re:And... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Shakrai (717556) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:35AM (#27968709) Journal

      It's the same old business as usual.

      That's not true. The people in charge now are less interested in telling us who we can sleep with and more interested in telling us what kinds of foods we can eat. Yeah, the Government is still trying to micromanage our lives like an obsessed baby sitter, but hey, it's still change you can believe in ;)

      • by TheABomb (180342)

        But you'll find the average Slashdotter much more heavily invested in Doritos and Bawls than in sex (at least, the varieties that involve other persons).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ArcherB (796902)

          But you'll find the average Slashdotter much more heavily invested in Doritos and Bawls than in sex (at least, the varieties that involve other persons).

          I find the opposite is true. Sex is like oxygen. When you are getting enough of it, it's not a big deal.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        I don't ever remember the government attempting to say who you could sleep with, they just didn't want some people to get married. That's a long ways of difference.

      • The people in charge now are less interested in telling us who we can sleep with

        Please show me one quote from the previous President telling anyone who they can sleep with. Why is this moderated "Insightful"?

        I am no fan of overreaching government (yeah, I am one of those libertarian whackos), but shouldn't /. mods maintain a modicum of neutrality and ability to think critically about what they moderate?

    • Re:And... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:58AM (#27969143) Homepage

      Well of course no matter who you elected it was by and large going to be business as usual (yes, Ron Paulians, even if that long shot had occured).

      But what I'm not seeing is how this is actually the same. I RTFA (gasp) and it seems the issue is that the new rules include informed consent requirements for egg donors that the old lines, despite being collected under informed consent standards of their own, don't meet the letter of the new rules, which are applied retroactively. The new rules were drafted by the NIH, who said that they estimated the new rules would make 700 old lines available for research that weren't before. A number of researchers are saying that they don't think that's the case and many of the old lines would not meet the new standard despite being collected ethically.

      So which seems more likely:
      - NIH really intended to make all those old lines available, but botched the legalese, which can be fixed by loosening the retroactive requirements while keeping the new requirements for new lines or various other changes.
      - NIH was lying and is trying to quash stem cell research "just like Bush, business as usual" by disqualifying these old lines, while simultaneously allowing arbitrarily many new lines to be created using standards that are qualitatively if not technically nearly identical to the old ones.

      The second just doesn't make much sense to me. Why bother lying when the practical effect would be obvious and nobody can really do anything about it anyway, why even display the draft rules rather than just put them into effect, why allow new stem cell collection under standards nearly identical to the old if the goal is to quash it entirely? Why's Obama trying to quash stem cell research anyway? Pressure from the religious right? I don't get it.

      • There's a third option:
        - Go around NIH's new requirements by simply going back to the donating couple and asking them if they'd like to sign a new contract.

        Given what I've seen of the demographics of this issue, I'm willing to bet you'd free up 350 lines or more, out of the 700 available.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by interkin3tic (1469267)

          There's a third option:
          - Go around NIH's new requirements by simply going back to the donating couple and asking them if they'd like to sign a new contract.

          Seems nearly impossible. Most of the researchers who are actually trying to use the stem cell lines probably have no access to the identifying information. If you're working on stem cell culture, you don't know and don't care who the cells were from, you respect their privacy. Until legalese gets arbitrarily in your way that is. It's not like the cells are labeled "Embryonic stem cells harvested from Jane Smith and Joe McDonald's aborted embryo."

          Plus, if you did get the identifying information, contacte

          • Seems nearly impossible. Most of the researchers who are actually trying to use the stem cell lines probably have no access to the identifying information. If you're working on stem cell culture, you don't know and don't care who the cells were from, you respect their privacy

            First of all, that seems unethical from the standpoint of the fact you're dealing with human beings, not just "cultures". I think I begin to see why the slippery slope in just this description.

            Secondly, why the hell sh

            • by omris (1211900)

              First of all, that seems unethical from the standpoint of the fact you're dealing with human beings, not just "cultures".

              You're really not dealing with humans. You're dealing with a tiny plastic tube with some frozen liquid in it. And it's probably labeled with a short series of numbers and letters, like T-F96.

              If I was doing work on a clinical trial, where I was running samples on a patient, I would in fact be required to remove all identifying information about the person.

              In contrast to the internet, anonymity in science actually PROTECTS both the subject and the data.

              • You're dealing with a tiny plastic tube with some frozen liquid in it.

                If a species is defined by the DNA- then that frozen liquid has a very special description of an individual in it.

                And it's probably labeled with a short series of numbers and letters, like T-F96.

                Which is a database unique key to something. Usually a record. Which has foreign keys to other records.

                If I was doing work on a clinical trial, where I was running samples on a patient, I would

                • by omris (1211900)

                  If a species is defined by the DNA- then that frozen liquid has a very special description of an individual in it.

                  By that definition, every tissue human tissue sample or DNA sample has all of the rights and protections of a living human being. Better not do research on cadavers of blood samples anymore either. That would be unethical.

                  Which is a database unique key to something. Usually a record. Which has foreign keys to other records.

                  None of which is available to the scientists. You certainly wouldn't know the names of the people who donated an embryo.

                  So if the sample turned out to have some deadly disease in it, you'd be required to not notify the patient?

                  Two things, if the sample was for clinical trial, I would have to explain why I was doing something other than my research with their samples, seeing as how I didn't h

                • If a species is defined by the DNA- then that frozen liquid has a very special description of an individual in it.

                  It's not defined that way, only the genome is. Even at a molecular level, the genome doesn't tell the whole story. More specific to people, the complete lack of anything resembling a nervous system, to me, indicates that there's no dehumanization going on as there isn't a human.

                  So if the sample turned out to have some deadly disease in it, you'd be required to not notify the patient?

                  Yes. That is one potential downside, but I think it's a reasonable tradeoff to make sure insurance companies don't get ahold of it.

                  Anyway, there are few diseases that would turn up in analysis of ESC that you'd be able to do anyth

            • Secondly, why the hell shouldn't donors be paid for essentially providing their family's information?

              I think there are legal restrictions against compensation for medical tissue, I guess because of fears of a black market, but I don't know if there are or not. A bigger issue (for the researcher) with compensation is leverage, if you use one stem cell line extensively, they implement this retroactive buisiness, and the donor says "give me half your funds or you can't use it," then you're starting over from scratch. Seems like you also might be facing a lawsuit over past research, though IANAL.

              In fact, if I understand it correctly, it should be labeled "Embyronic Stem Cells harvested from Jane Smith and Joe McDonald's unused embryo from fertility treatment", not an aborted embryo at all.

              Ack! I can'

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          Sure, though that's really a variant of my first option since the most important part of it was that NIH did intend for those old lines to be made available. They might say this is a reasonable way to do this. If the alternative theory, that NIH is trying to prevent these lines from being used, were true then they would close this 'loophole' too and ensure the old lines couldn't be used.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        Sure you don't get it. Just like Stalin constantly told the world that the polish would have their sovereignty back as soon as Germany was defeated. Politicians often say one thing to passify the masses and then do the opposite under some obscure justification. And with something like stem cells, it so low on the majorities radar that the context of reversing what was seen as a religious blockade but maintaining it under a different guise would be just as consistent but not anything different.

        You asked why?

        • Re:And... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday May 15, 2009 @01:05PM (#27970181) Homepage

          Politicians often say one thing to passify the masses and then do the opposite under some obscure justification.

          You asked why? Power, support from those who have the power, and control. I don't think there has been a modern president who wasn't in support of more federal government control in the last 30 years.

          I asked why does Obama want to quash stem cell research. "Power" is a non-answer; he has the power by having the guidelines researches have to follow, whether those guidelines exclude stem cell research or not. The question is, what does this accomplish, and why would he deliberately restrict the old lines from being used, yet deliberately allow new lines to be created?

          So yeah. I completely get that politicians will say one thing and do another, thanks. Now please start making sense, and explain how this makes sense.

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            I asked why does Obama want to quash stem cell research. "Power" is a non-answer; he has the power by having the guidelines researches have to follow, whether those guidelines exclude stem cell research or not. The question is, what does this accomplish, and why would he deliberately restrict the old lines from being used, yet deliberately allow new lines to be created?

            Don't confuse the use of power with getting power. Power can be obtained by the support of powerful people. Think drug lobby and a medica

            • Re:And... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday May 15, 2009 @02:58PM (#27971757) Homepage

              Don't confuse the use of power with getting power. Power can be obtained by the support of powerful people. Think drug lobby and a medical system that treats symptoms instead of cures.

              Okay, now explain how opening up all future stem cell lines with informed consent standards that are very similar to the old ones, but excluding those old ones, helps the drug lobby. If the motivation you ascribe was true, and stem cell research was a risk to the drug lobby, then Obama would have tried to prevent all future stem cell lines, not opened the floodgates to creating new ones. The restrictions on old lines would have been something concrete, not something they can get around by calling the former donors and getting a new form signed.

              I thought it was pretty obvious as I already stated it. I guess your one of the people who are still buffaloed into thinking Obama was something special. He isn't, it's the same crap, the names have changed and who is leveraging who has changed but it's all the same BS.

              You babbled some nonsense about Stalin and governments seeking more power and control even though they already had this power and more. Explain how this is the same BS, just don't declare it to be the same and act like that means anything.

              See, the problem is that if I completely buy into that "Obama is the same BS" (instead of my default 50%), then this still doesn't make sense and you aren't making any either. You've posited a motivation. You have not explained how these specific actions fit those ascribed motivations, and in many ways it contradicts your posited motivation.

              You sound like one of those people who was so upset on Nov. 3rd 2008 that you lost your ability to distinguish.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        1. Fourth Option - Research with out Federal money.
          Problem - Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESRC) is far less productive than Adult Stem Cell Research (ASCR), so investors who actually want to see some profit aren't putting their money into ESRC. Would you?
        2. We could just rewind to before the <sarc>Evil Bush</sarc>, but then there wouldn't be any Federal funding for ESRC at all. That's right it was the <sarc>Evil Christainist BushHitler</sarc> that opened up any Federal spending
        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          So maybe the people in charge are just incompetent? Wasn't anyone considered that as a possibility?

          That was my first option -- they wanted to make the lines available, but screwed it up. Not because of some weird plan to crush stem cell research, but because they worded the draft proposal wrong.

      • by Gerzel (240421) *

        It is just a draft. Why not write your congressman or appropriate entity and ask them to look into it.

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          It is just a draft. Why not write your congressman or appropriate entity and ask them to look into it.

          I'm sure the researchers who are affected, such as those quoted in the article, are going to be using the formal feedback process to make their concerns, which they obviously know in much more detail than I, known. I'm not sure but do believe that NIH will take those considerations into account and change the guidelines to grandfather in the old lines, because the alternative makes no sense.

  • by Gat0r30y (957941) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:30AM (#27968609) Homepage Journal

    The so-called Presidential lines aren't suitable for actual medical application

    They were, and still are, suitable for research. Many of these lines have been contaminated in ways which pretty much already precluded any actual medical application.

  • Silly question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:30AM (#27968611)

    Why can't the ethical debate be side stepped, by using cord blood cells? I never hear this mentioned when the topic of federal funding for stem cells comes up. I figured someone here could explain the pros and cons of these cells from a research point of view.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Pushing embryonic stem cells is more about justifying abortion than actual stem cell treatments. Adult stem cells have shown the best treatment options while embryonic stem cells would have the same issues as organ transplants. Cord blood would likely be as effective as embryonic but does not help the abortion stance. Pharmaceuticals benefits as well in making drugs to prevent rejection from treatments made with embryonic sources.

      It is more about politics and money at the cost of ethics and good science.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by quantaman (517394)

        Pushing embryonic stem cells is more about justifying abortion than actual stem cell treatments. Adult stem cells have shown the best treatment options while embryonic stem cells would have the same issues as organ transplants. Cord blood would likely be as effective as embryonic but does not help the abortion stance. Pharmaceuticals benefits as well in making drugs to prevent rejection from treatments made with embryonic sources.

        It is more about politics and money at the cost of ethics and good science.

        Yeah, funny how they've found more treatments using the types of stem cells they're allowed to study as opposed to the stem cells they're not allowed to study.

        It must be that all the researchers are lying about the potential because harvesting stem cells from extra embryos that would be discarded regardless will help push forward their plans to kill babies.

      • Re:Silly question (Score:4, Insightful)

        by brkello (642429) on Friday May 15, 2009 @05:29PM (#27973493)
        How in the hell did this get modded +5? Seriously, what is wrong with you people? People are going to have abortions (even if it were illegal). Why don't we actually use those stem cells to do something good? That's fine that there are other methods, use them too. But stem cells is not something that I have ever heard anyone use as a justification for abortion.

        Justification for abortion go along these lines: people do not believe it is a human life yet, they can not afford to have the child so having abortion makes it less of a burden on the state, if you make abortions illegal, people will still get them but not in the safety of a doctor's office causing deaths and injury.

        It's fine if you believe abortion is taking away a life and that it should be illegal. That is a completely rational stance and there are good options like adoption. But no one ever gets pregnant so that they can have an abortion to give stem cells. No one is arguing that we should have abortions to get stem cells. But since it is legal, why would you not utilize something that could help other people? I haven't heard even the most left pro-choice person ever give that argument as a reason to conduct abortions.
  • its called (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nimbius (983462) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:30AM (#27968619) Homepage
    a draft...meaning its up for review and revision...

    there can also be, get this, several of them created until they get it right.
    • Re:its called (Score:5, Insightful)

      by flitty (981864) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:38AM (#27968783)
      The base of the problem:

      The NIH requires consent forms that clearly mention human embryonic stem cell research, forbid donating eggs for the benefit of a specific person, and contain various other stipulations that were generally mentioned during older consent processes, but not rigorously codified. These rules could have a massive impact on existing and proposed research.

      So, the previous consent forms conflict with the new consent forms, rendering most cell lines unusable. Sounds like the DRAFT needs to add a grandfather clause. This isn't that big of a deal other than it's sloppy standards writing. Good on Wired for bringing it up so that it can be fixed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by emag (4640)

      Man, the best way to get around things is to call something a "draft". That way, no one's head it ever on the chopping block about it, since it's "only" a draft. You can easily change it, because it's "just" a draft. Yet you can still hold people to it because it's "the latest draft of what will be the policy". I see & hear about it a _lot_ at work. Some "policies" that are being enforced have been in "draft" form for a decade... Granted, it's IT, but these things cross-contaminate.

      • by flitty (981864)

        Yet you can still hold people to it because it's "the latest draft of what will be the policy". I see & hear about it a _lot_ at work.

        Sounds like one of your bosses doesn't understand the word "draft". At my job, if anyone tells me something is in the latest "draft", i'll tell them to come back when the draft gets Released as Policy. Auditors don't look at drafts, and neither should you.

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        You can easily change it, because it's "just" a draft. Yet you can still hold people to it because it's "the latest draft of what will be the policy". I see & hear about it a _lot_ at work.

        Sounds like your workplace is a lot looser about its bureaucracy than the government.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:30AM (#27968637) Journal

    Wouldn't it be better to really get the government out of science altogether and let the actual scientists decide what to research instead of having some politically and/or religiously motivated bureaucrat making those decisions for them? Federal funding has always come with politically motivated restrictions. When Obama said he was getting the government "out of" science by increasing governmental funding I couldn't help but roll my eyes.

    • by BobMcD (601576)

      Seems like they'd find some other way to pay for it, doesn't it?

    • What Obama talked about was taking the politics out of science, not the government. Those aren't the same thing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556)

        How do you take the politics out of the science when you hold the science hostage to political considerations to get the required funds?

        • How do you take the politics out of the science when you hold the science hostage to political considerations to get the required funds?

          You try to make the policy and decision making processes for the agencies that fund this kind of thing independent of political appointees. It's not absolutely perfect, but it's also not impossible to do.

          Also, it's worth noting three things. One, these are draft regs and the linked article only quotes a couple of people complaining about them without any indication of hav

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      No. The scientists have to get their funding from somewhere; and the government throws a lot of money around. The other options for funding are worse: You can get it from corporations, who will only fund research if they see a way to make a profit from it in the next three to five years; or you can get from universities, but I understand that the political games in academia are far more vicious than they are in government.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by raddan (519638)
      Nonsense. The tradeoff is small. Generally speaking, the politically-motivated decision makers are the appointees. They can set the direction of an organization, but they do not do the work. There are thousands of government scientists. They do good SCIENCE, which by it's very nature is truth-driven. Now whether you consider the pursuit of truth "politically motivated" or not is a matter of interpretation.

      My brother works for the BFRL [nist.gov] at NIST [nist.gov]. Now, a lot of what they work on does not affect you.
    • by vertinox (846076)

      Wouldn't it be better to really get the government out of science altogether and let the actual scientists decide what to research instead of having some politically and/or religiously motivated bureaucrat making those decisions for them?

      Considering most of the recent technological developments were because of government (internet, GPS, blood transfusions, microwave, radar, nuclear power etc) I will have to disagree.

      Yes, private business expanded on the ideas after the conception to what they are today and

    • To stop government funding would be to stop most research. Who else pays for it?
    • by quantaman (517394)

      Wouldn't it be better to really get the government out of science altogether and let the actual scientists decide what to research instead of having some politically and/or religiously motivated bureaucrat making those decisions for them? Federal funding has always come with politically motivated restrictions. When Obama said he was getting the government "out of" science by increasing governmental funding I couldn't help but roll my eyes.

      The problem is that returns are too long and intermittent for private industry to fund basic research, the government has to provide the money if it's going to get done.

      And once the money is being supplied there has to be some kind of oversight, the only hope is that the oversight is based on legitimate scientific and moral grounds, not politics.

  • by jsnipy (913480) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:31AM (#27968655) Journal
    At least the "I support stem cell research" sound byte sounded good!
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:32AM (#27968665)

    Or more to the point, does it, really work that way?

    Taylor noted that removing federal support for ESC lines supported by Bush wouldnâ(TM)t only affect use of the cells, but all the work done to characterize line-specific behaviors and tendencies. âoeWhen you take a cell line and say weâ(TM)re not going to use it any more, youâ(TM)re talking about a tremendous body of information,â he said.

    So if Uncle Sam isn't willing to pay the bills any more, the whole lot goes into the trash?

    Why, then, are there more than 21 lines in existence now? And how is it possible that there are as many as 700 lines that are over 10 years old?

    No, it seems to me that they will just have to get their money from somewhere else. And if their research is as appealing as they claim it should be, there should be other sources of funding.

    This is more about Chicken Little than anything actually important to humanity...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Allow me to explain.

      The world is pretty big, so pharmaceutical and other research companies like to shop around before doing anything.

      So outside of the fact that some areas have more local expertise than others, public money is key to attracting research. (The US also has a natural advantage with its market size and anything goes marketing regulations)

      Let's just say that Bush's finance strategy didn't really hurt the global stem cell research effort, it just hurt the stem cell research community inside the

      • Let's just say that Bush's finance strategy didn't really hurt the global stem cell research effort, it just hurt the stem cell research community inside the US.

        How did it hurt the research community inside the U.S.? Before Bush, the U.S. didn't fund ANY embryonic stem cell research.
        At the worst, it didn't help it as much as some would have liked.

        • by omris (1211900)

          So long as the change is positive at all, we should be happy there was a gain. Pay no attention to the fact that all future gains will now be cripplingly slow as we struggle to make up for the fact that we've been hobbled. At least we are allowed to make SOME progress.

          I think their point was that we've been left in the dust by the rest of the science world. The reason that there are 700 cell lines despite having no federal funding is not a sign of the availability of non-federal funds, but a sign that th

          • There was no "Bush's legislation". Bush was President. Presidents don't legislate. Legislators (in the U.S. Federal government that means Congressman and Senators) do.
            So, you are trying to tell me that if Bush had done NOTHING, embryonic stem cell research would be more advanced in the U.S. then it is today?
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by omris (1211900)

              Yes. I will definitely tell you that stem cell research would be better off without Bush. In fact, I would bet that if we had a time machine, ALL research would probably do better without Bush, with the exception of "research" done to support abstinence only programs and homosexual conversion therapy.

              Although it is true that it was during Bush's term that the first funding actually got passed out, Clinton and Congress actually allowed the NIH to fund stem cell research.

              Bush ended the legal arguments that

    • Or more to the point, does it, really work that way?

      It's not too far off. NIH funds more biomedical research than anyone else, and it has rules about sharing resources.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by matt20102 (1392491)
      Why isn't this point getting any traction? Although I oppose ESC, I know that it holds the potential for cures for diseases. The companies know this, too, but for some reason they want taxpayer money to conduct the research. Unless *all* of the taxpayer-funded research is to be put into the public domain, there is absolutely no reason why companies should get federal research money. OTOH, cure cancer or diabetes with ESC and I guarantee that the company that finds the trick will make billions of dollars.
  • At issue here are the NIH's proposed guidelines regarding a woman's consent to stem cell research when her donated eggs and embryos are used to create a cell line. The NIH wants to stiffen them to make sure that a woman has to specifically agree to let her eggs be used for stem cell research. I can understand that because I sure as hell wouldn't want cell lines made from my genetic material without my consent.

    The problem is that these standards, if applied retroactively, would invalidate many of the currently-available stem cell lines. Scientists are more than happy to apply these new standards going forward, but obviously want current stem cell lines to be grandfathered in. I hope that the NIH clarifies the guidelines to allow already-existing stem cell lines to be used. After all, these are the draft standards, not the final ones.

    I am happy that the NIH concerns do not seem to be motivated by a political agenda. Informed consent is the keystone of all medical treatment and medical research. This is a welcome change compared to the Bush Administration, which made scientific decisions based on religious and political grounds. Snow flake babies? Really? Come on.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "I can understand that because I sure as hell wouldn't want cell lines made from my genetic material without my consent."
      Why?
      If they are going to be thrown away anyways, why do you think there still yours?

      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:01PM (#27969207) Homepage

        For the same reason I think the genetic material in the condom I threw away is "mine", and would be upset if someone used it to procreate without my consent!

        Go ahead and make a property rights argument about how I don't legally get to say what is done with my stuff that lands in the landfill. Who cares. This is about ethics, and I for one am glad that the medical research profession takes ethics into consideration.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by omris (1211900)

          Now, I don't disagree that that would be an upsetting situation, but I have a question.

          Would it be upsetting because it was your DNA and you wanted it to get thrown away, or because it was used to create this offspring with needs and attached responsibilities and long lasting and expensive legal obligations that you didn't have a say in? Because really, would you be so upset if they used it to condition their hair instead?

          You can discard something that you don't need in a lot of different ways. And some o

        • This is about ethics, and I for one am glad that the medical research profession takes ethics into consideration.

          Great, you're all for ethical research. Then what do you call Bush's decision to not federally fund any new lines?
          Many critics attacked that decision as based solely on "religious" views, but that was also a matter of ethics, because at what point in development do you consider a human being (or a zygote or an embryo) officially a human being, the issue of a "soul" aside?
          I don't think anyone can definitely, scientifically answer that question.
          And actually, I'm playing devils' advocate here, as person

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by omris (1211900)

            I don't think we HAVE to answer the question of whether an embryo is a person or not. At the end of the day, there are some regulations that dictate what can and can't be done with that embryo, be it a person or not. You can implant it in a uterus and make a baby, or throw it on the sidewalk, or donate it to science.

            You can argue that Bush felt it was morally wrong to use embryos to develop cell lines. I personally think that Bush doesn't really care what you do with embryos, so long as you vote for him,

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by crmarvin42 (652893)
        because they are! You own your genetic material (unless you live in CA and one of their universities decides that your cells would be useful to them). It's the entire basis for women having the authority to abort their own children. "It's My Body!" I fail to see a relevant distinction.

        It's my genetic material inside of those cells and I may not have a problem with them being used, but I deserve to be asked first. I agree that a grandfather clause is in order to enable the use of previously established
      • Because the issue with ethics we really need a clear line where what is right and what is wrong. Otherwise we fall on a sliding scale approach.

        Most people who do evil things don't do it for evil reasons but fall on the sliding scale with ethics then they find themselfs in the black part of the shades of gray.

        Ethics don't aways mesh well with progress but they are important, having an ethics border to stop even if it hinders short term progress has a greater long term advantage.

        So lets use Using Genetic Sam

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by omris (1211900)

          And if they were making stem cell lines out of embryos without consent, you'd have a point. As it is, they are making them WITH consent, and they are now making the consent form more specific. It isn't the same at all, really.

          A right to privacy based on information in your genetic code is already a BIG DEAL in bioethics. While it really has nothing to do with stem cell lines, it is scary to think that your health insurance company could refuse to cover you because you carry genes that make you susceptibl

    • "I can understand that because I sure as hell wouldn't want cell lines made from my genetic material without my consent."

      You are Jango Fett and I claim my five pounds.

    • by omris (1211900)

      At issue here are the NIH's proposed guidelines regarding a woman's consent to stem cell research when her donated eggs and embryos are used to create a cell line. I can understand that because I sure as hell wouldn't want cell lines made from my genetic material without my consent.

      I think that what is really at issue is whether or not they already gave consent. No one argues that they shouldn't have to give consent before donating an embryo. But when you sign a paper that says:

      "I agree that my embryo might be used for any of a variety of research and scientific purposes including, but not limited to: blah blah blah, saving babies, curing cancer, finding out why lolcats are so popular... and I can't have any say in which if any it actually gets used for..."

      are you really try

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by matt20102 (1392491)
      While the Bush administration did much to hinder scientific research, do not confuse this the opposition of ESC with a political agenda. I, like everyone else that opposes ESC, don't have a unexplainable bent against scientific research. We are looking to the atrocities committed in the name of medical research in just the last 100 years and are drawing a line in the sand in terms of what constitutes acceptable research (and research for which we want to commit our tax dollars). This being a free societ
      • by omris (1211900)

        If I believed for a second that the Bush Administration actually passed this legislation to save the lives of embryos and not to get votes, I'd shut up right now.

        Oh well.

        A lot of the opposition to ESC in the higher levels of government is political pandering, and nothing more. I generally think of politicians as people who would pass a law against sunshine and puppies if they thought it would get them reelected.

        I appreciate that you have a moral issue with ESC research, but I don't buy that most people who

  • . . . come up with your own funding. It's not as though embryonic stem cell research is illegal.

  • Once Big Pharma (read: private funding) figures out how to make money off stem cells, you can bet your ass this tech will skyrocket.

    All hail capitalism!!!
  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:38AM (#27968785)

    "Only stem cells created from sources which have little chance of ever being implanted for pregnancy may be used, and only with the consent of the genetic donors"

    Ta-Da!!

    One sentence that captures what they're actually trying to say, without invalidating the work that has already been done. Just write it in plain, understandable English and move on to the next issue please.

  • by necro81 (917438) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:45AM (#27968903) Journal
    Keep in mind that these rules for stem cell lines only concern what the US Government (mainly the NIH) will be permitted to fund with research dollars. The other stem cell lines needn't be abandoned or thrown away, they just can't be publicly funded.

    Private and public companies can still conduct research on them, and several states (notably California) have alternate stem cell research funding programs available, with less stringent guidelines.

    The government (not merely the Obama administration) is in a tight spot between those that want absolutely no research conducted on embryonic stem cells, and those that want to follow where the science leads them regardless of tricky ethical considerations.

    I think the administration's position is a decent compromise. Plus, it is a foot in the door to loosening restrictions further. In this particular area of research, I feel a conservative (in the literal sense: resistant to change, hesitant, deliberate; NOT the political, neocon meaning), incremental approach is best until we have a good sense of what we are dealing with - the incredible benefits and the awesome risks. This grasp and understanding must be pervasive, too, not just within the small cadre of cutting-edge researchers, but also in the minds of policy-makers and the general public who would be funding this research.
  • it is also painful to read these ignorant posts.

    Read the damn guidelines and at least understand which one aren't allowed, why, and which ones are allowed.

    In the long run, this opens up a lot or new lines then where allowed in the previous administration.

  • RAINBOWS (Score:2, Funny)

    by bonch (38532)

    Rainbows and ponies, glued together with hope! Vote Obama '08!

    Sigh...

  • The Obama Ban (Score:4, Informative)

    by SnarfQuest (469614) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:05PM (#27969269)

    Are the media going to do reports on the "Obama ban", like they've been doing on the "Bush ban"? Is it only a "ban" when you take funding from 0 to something non-0?

    • Are the media going to do reports on the "Obama ban", like they've been doing on the "Bush ban"? Is it only a "ban" when you take funding from 0 to something non-0?

      No, it is only a "ban" when you are a Republican.

  • Are those lines forbidden from use, or only ineligible for FEDERAL MONEY when used? Bush placed no restrictions on what stem cells anybody could finance research on, and I don't believe Obama does either; it only restrict the expenditure of public money on such. I think that (very important) point was overlooked by many.
  • I don't believe there is malice or conspiracy on the part of Obama administration at all. It's just plain ignorance, the hallmark of the empty slogans of hope fed through the adoring masses of those who lacked the intelligence to see through those slogans (media) to those to whom "hope" means a hope of more handouts (the entitlement class).

    This is one bright future we are building for our children.

Work without a vision is slavery, Vision without work is a pipe dream, But vision with work is the hope of the world.

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