Thursday, June 09, 2005

Surprise! Approved Lines Contaminated, Undesirable

I knew it wouldn't be long before my suspicion was confirmed - scientists don't want to work on the contaminated cell lines the government has to offer. John D. Gearheart, a Johns Hopkins developmental biologist and stem cell pioneer is quoted below during his testimony at a hearing held by the Senate Special Committee on Aging yesterday.

"Gearhart, who conducts research on stem cells from embryonic and adult tissues, said the lines available for research under the president's policy lack genetic diversity, are not disease-specific, are not adequate for researchers to apply to a wide variety of diseases and are contaminated with animal cells.

Earlier embryonic stem cell lines, including the 22 available for federal research, were grown with mouse "feeder" cells that helped the stem cells grow but also made them unsuitable for use in human therapies.

Gearhart said colleagues at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Wisconsin, Madison recently published methods for growing embryonic stem cells without such mouse cells.

"We'd rather work on lines that have no feeder layers," he said of the new, "cleaner" cell lines. "These are now available. This is extremely valuable and should be eligible for federal funding if we want to progress."

Here is the link to the article, but be warned, you might have to "register' with the baltimore sun in order to view it - it is free to register. Alternatively, you could go to and search on Gearhart - for some reason I didn't have to register when I did it that way.

Scientists back bill on stem cells, Baltimore Sun, 6/9/05

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