NIH may reconsider ban on funding for human—animal stem cell research

Written by RegMedNet

Policy proposal open for 30-day comment period

US NIH officials are proposing the end of a moratorium on research involving transplantation of human stem cells into animal embryos, producing chimeras.

The temporary ban on funding such research was introduced last September on ethical grounds. Many ethical concerns centred on the possibility of producing animal brains containing human neurons and chimeras capable of reproduction.

A new policy allowing the NIH to fund researchers investigating human stem cells in early-stage animal embryos has been offered up for a 30-day comment period. The policy proposal was announced on the 4th August by NIH’s associate director for science policy Carrie D Wolinetz, who stated it would: “enable NIH research community to move this promising area of science forward in a responsible manner”.

The proposed policy would not automatically extend to experiments involving the implantation of human cells into nonhuman primates. In such species, the cells would need to be added at a later stage of embryo development and additional NIH committee approval would be required. Studies planning to introduce substantial amounts of human cells into nonrodent mammal brains would also require extra review. Funding for projects proposing to breed animals capable of producing human zygotes would continue to be banned.

Written by Hannah Wilson

National Institutes of Health Office of Science Policy