The most widely used line of human embryonic stem cells can once again be studied with federal dollars. Yesterday, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) approved four stem cell lines submitted by WiCell, the nonprofit associated with the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The lines include H9, which has been used in over 500 published studies.
These four lines were approved under the Bush-era stem cell policy, but they had to undergo new scrutiny to make sure they meet stiff ethics rules issued last summer by the Obama Administration. WiCell did not submit applications for the lines until 2 weeks ago. Meanwhile, researchers using H9 worried that they might have to cancel research projects. (Researchers who already had grants could keep using the Bush-era lines, but any new grants relying on them were on hold.)
The holdup stemmed from the fact that the four lines were derived from embryos that were donated in Israel. Collecting documents there and translating from Hebrew to English took time, WiCell said in a press release. NIH also added nine other lines to its registry yesterday, according to the The Washington Post, bringing the total to 64.