WASHINGTON -- Sixty-four human embryonic stem cell colonies that officials say can be used for federally funded studies are enough to keep scientists busy for years doing basic research, some experts say.
The National Institutes of Health on Monday identified 10 labs that have developed 64 embryonic stem cell lines that are approved for use in government research.
The action silenced weeks of skepticism during which some experts questioned whether the cell lines existed. Nonetheless, some experts said again Monday that the 64 lines may not be adequate.
However, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said it was time for researchers to get to work.
"The scientific community must seize the moment," Thompson said following the NIH announcement.
Monday's announcement was the next step in a process that started earlier this month when President Bush said his administration would fund embryonic stem cell studies, but only for cell lines developed before Aug. 9.
Embryonic stem cell studies are opposed by some church groups and by some in Congress because to make the cell colonies requires the death of a human embryo, an act some consider to be homicide. Bush's decision permits federal research, but only on cells coming from embryos processed before the cutoff date. He also required that the cells be derived from embryos considered surplus at fertility clinics and which were donated for research, without compensation, by couples who were fully informed about the process.
NIH said the eligible cell lines were developed at four U.S. labs, at two labs each in India and Sweden and at one lab each in Australia and Israel. Goteborg University in Sweden had the most lines with a total of 19, NIH said.
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