February 17, 2014
• Stem Cells and Public Policy
o 1996 – Federal government prohibits the use of federal money for research
involving the destruction of a human embryo (Dickey-Wicker)
o 1998 – human embryonic stem cells first isolated
o 2001 – Bush permits federal funds to work with stem cells isolated prior to 2001
o 2001 – present – privately funded laboratories create many new “improved” stem
cell lines, many start-up companies, patents, animal and clinical trials
o 2007 – the first induced pluripotent cells provide an option to human embryos
o 2009 – Obama permits federal funds for work with stem cells isolated at any time
but requires documentation of ethical guidelines followed during their isolation.
This eliminated the possibility of using some cells that had been available for use
under Bush but allowed many more to be used.
o 2010 – more controversy: Federal Judge grants injunction against any federal
funding of ESC research
o 2011 – US Court ofAppeals reverses the ruling – RULING ISAPPEALED.
o 2013 – US Supreme Court refuses to hear the case. Plaintiff continues his efforts
“to emancipate human embryos” from the research.
• Review of Friday
o The hope of ESC research is that we can take blastocysts and treat a huge number
of diseases with them. (pluripotent)
o Adult stem cells are much rarer, harder to obtain, already specialized.
o Embryonic stem cells are derived exclusively from excess blastocysts discarded
from IVF clinics.
Three options for these embryos from IVF clinics – they can be discarded,
frozen, or donated for research.
o Getting stem cell therapy into the clinic faces many challenges.
Have to –
• Generate sufficient quantities of the desired cell type(s)
• Evade immune rejection
• Survive in the patient after transplant • Be safe for the patient
o In addition to just implanting stem cells in people, we have been able to conduct a
lot of other useful research.
Researching early human development
Researching hard to derive tissues
Drug design tested
• Last 10 years – mounting tension over ESC research
o Before Obama, the bestAmerican researchers were competing with old cell lines,
while the private sector and other countries were isolating fresh lines by more
o Each state developed completely different policies, from prohibiting