Nature Methods | Methagora

Stem cell whiplash

When we wrote our editorial for the October 2010 issue of Nature Methods, we didn’t know whether human embryonic stem cell research in the US would be effectively shut down by the time the issue was printed.

Fortunately, the stay of the injunction that resulted from last month’s ruling – which held that the 2009 NIH guidelines for hESC research are illegal – has been extended, and federal activities related to hESC research can continue for the moment. But this could change with the next decision in the courts.

As we discuss in this editorial, this is a serious blow to US hESC research and will slow down progress to understanding induced pluripotent stem cells too. This is a very unfortunate state of affairs. Its exciting potential notwithstanding, research on human pluripotent stem cells is still in relatively early days. If it is to lead to deeper biological understanding and to cures for human disease, it needs support outside of the lab as well as within it.

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