Womens Health

Deriving New Cell Lines

Thanks to Michigan's approval of Proposal 2, the University of Michigan has launched its first project for creating stem cell lines from donated human embryos. The work will be undertaken by the university's Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies. Thus far, the project has received funding commitments of come $2 million.

Highly Regulated

The project required a great deal of study and cooperation between numerous bodies including the university's own Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee and an Institutional Review Board to get to the point where research might begin. "During last year's Proposal 2 campaign, opponents of human embryonic stem cell research claimed the constitutional amendment would lead to unregulated science," said the co-director of the university's Consortium, Gary Smith, "But the fact that it has taken many months to clear all the regulatory steps required to start this project demonstrates that human embryonic stem cell science is among the most highly regulated areas of research.

Smith, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology takes pride in the fact that the University of Michigan's researchers will at last join their colleagues from around the world in exploring the full potential of human embryonic stem cell research. The scientists at the university believe they can produce their first stem cell line from embryos by the middle of 2010. The project has 1,254 square feet of lab space secured for the project and the labs have also been outfitted with up-to-the-minute lab equipment. So far, three new researchers have been hired on for this project with a fourth hire expected in the near future.

Informed Consent

The embryos approved for use in this project were intended to be used for reproductive purposes but are unsuitable for this purpose or are no longer required by their owners. The embryos must be given freely and with the informed consent of donors, which must be documented in written form.

James Shayman, a co-chair of the oversight committee said, "Because this represented the first project at the University of Michigan in which embryos were to be used for the derivation of embryonic stem cells, the committee worked exhaustively to ensure that the proposed research complies with all relevant state and federal regulations. While this review took several months to complete, we believe that the committee, working in concert with the Medical School's Institutional Review Board, was duly diligent in this process."

Shayman is also the university's associate vice president for research in health affairs. He believes that the proposed research may even exceed state and federal standards. 

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