NIH Stem Cell Guidelines Will Enable our Best Scientists, For the First Time, to Fully Pursue the Promises of this Exciting Field (Sen. Tom Harkin)

I was very pleased by the National Institute of Health (NIH) draft guidelines regarding human embryonic stem cell research. In every key respect, they match the terms of the legislation Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and I have sponsored for the past four years, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.

The draft guidelines represent a policy that both respects human life and offers enormous hope to Americans who are suffering from diseases and debilitating conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s, juvenile diabetes and spinal-cord injuries.

Most importantly, the guidelines will allow hundreds more stem cell lines to be eligible for federally funded research – allowing developments that enables our best scientists, for the first time, to fully pursue the promises of this exciting and crucial field. As in my bill, Federal funding will be allowed under these guidelines only on stem cell lines derived from embryos that were created through in vitro fertilization, but are no longer needed for reproduction, would otherwise be discarded, and are donated without any financial or other inducements. For too long, political interference has delayed research that holds the promise for millions of Americans who suffer from a wide range of diseases.

I am anxiously awaiting the final approval of these guidelines in July and look forward to future possibilities in stem cell research.