Human Embryonic Stem Cells
Scientists are still studying the scope of human embryonic stem cells as they have
the potential to develop into almost any cell in the human body. Using blastocyst,
the inner cell mass of the early human embryos, they developed the first human embryonic
stem cell lines. The focus was on discovering the true potential of these cells
in treating diseases and conditions and to regenerate tissues for disfunctioning
cells or organs. They had focused on spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's
disease, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes among others. The source of the stem cells
included 7 day embryos which were left post an IVF infertility treatment and 5-
7 week old embryos obtained through abortions and developed tissues such as umbilical
cord blood and bone marrow. Since 1998, there have been controversies surrounding
extraction of stem cells from embryos as it involved destroying them. As these were
far more useful than developed stem cells, researchers focused more on them.
- In 2001 President Bush took office and announced that he would conduct
a review of the stem cell research issue. He also ordered the Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS) to review the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) guidelines
that had been issued by the former administration.
- August 9, 2001, President Bush declared that federal funds would only
be available to support limited human embryonic stem cell research. As per this
policy federal funds could be used for research on 64 existing stem cell lines that
had already been derived or were already in existence as of the date of the announcement.
He had passed this as he believed that the existing stem cell lines had been destroyed
already and could not develop as humans.
- March 9, 2009, Bush administration's eight-year ban on federal funding
of embryonic stem research was lifted by President Barack Obama, by Executive Order.
The President quoted “Today... we will bring the change that so many scientists
and researchers, doctors and innovators, patients and loved ones have hoped for,
and fought for, these past eight years.”