News of the WeekCell Biology

A Versatile Cell Line Raises Scientific Hopes, Legal Questions

Science  06 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5391, pp. 1014-1015
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5391.1014

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In an important advance that will provide a powerful tool for biological research, a team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin has isolated cells of a universal type called "stem" cells from human embryos and coaxed them to grow in five "immortal" cell lines. The achievement, reported on page 1145 of this issue, may eventually lead to techniques using such cells to repair blood, bone, and other tissues. But many researchers may be unable to use and develop these cells, because a U.S. law forbids the use of public funds for research on tissues derived from human embryos. As Science went to press, the National Institutes of Health was reviewing whether these cell lines come under the law.