Recently, President Obama signed new legislation that will mean that government funds may be used for private stem cell research efforts. Bio-tech researchers, patent law practitioners and bio-ethicists fall on different sides of the myriad of issues involving stem cell research.
Stem cells are thought to hold potential cures for many of humankind’s ailments. However, the use of stem cells for research raises many concerns such as selling embryos and killing potential human beings. Without commenting on any of these issues, here is what the new legislation requires to enable use of government funds for private research efforts.
The Act requires the following to use stem cells in research: 1) the stem cells must be obtained from in vitro clinics and have to be in excess of the stems cells need for in vitro; 2) after consultation with the individual seeking fertility treatment it was determined that the stem cells would not be implanted and would otherwise be discarded; and 3) the individual donating the stem cells must have provided written informed consent to use the excess stems cells in research without receiving financial inducements.
The National Institute of Heath (NIH) is supposed to enact guidelines to carry out the Act and the Secretary of Health and Human Services is supposed to prepare annual reports describing the activities carried out under this Act.