Thursday, August 24, 2000

UC researchers likely to seek NIH grants for stem cell study

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        At the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, several researchers already work with stem cells from mice and would likely seek National Institutes of Health grants to study human stem cell function, said Dr. David Millhorn, chairman of UC's department of molecular and cell physiology.

        “A lot of people are poised to do this kind of research. But until now the NIH wouldn't fund it,” Dr. Millhorn said.

        He noted that lifting the NIH funding moratorium does not change laws in Ohio or other states that ban research using aborted fetal tissue.

        Some people have the image in their minds that scientists would need to destroy vast numbers of human embryos to procure stem cells for research. That's not true, Dr. Millhorn said.

        “I'm not sure the general public understands that scientists are not going to be rushing out to abortion clinics to get stem cells,” Dr. Millhorn said.

        Stem cells can be collected from unused frozen embryos generated for fertility treatments, from placental blood, even in small amounts from adult blood.

        Once collected, stem cells can replicate themselves in lab settings. The new cells are not embryos, Dr. Millhorn said.

        In fact, some companies have already begun growing supplies of human stem cells.

        If UC were to begin human stem cell studies, researchers most likely would buy cells from such a company, Dr. Millhorn said.


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