Adult Stem Cell Therapy Blog

Scientists Skirt Stem Cell Ban by Building Dual Labs & Firewalls

Monday, June 19, 2006 - Stem Cell Guru

Today's featured article is one taken from the Bloomberg newswires which struck me both as being bizarre and also slightly disturbing.

We live in a time where the boundaries of medical science and research are supposedly being pushed back but, especially in the USA, regulations over funding and the types of research that are permitted are holding back researchers attempts at collaboration. At many educational institutions researchers and students studying adult & embryonic stem cells are not only not allowed to share the same laboratories, but lunchtime conversations between the two groups are also forbidden in case details of research are mentioned.

The full article can be found on the Bloomberg News site, below are a couple of the 'highlights' :

One of the examples given is that of The University of California, San Francisco that is gutting a laboratory originally financed with U.S. government grants and rebuilding it for stem cell research with $6 million in privately donated money.

Eleven floors below, scientists are using government funds to conduct nearly identical experiments. To create a "firewall" between them, the two laboratories will buy their own test tubes, freezers, and microscopes. Each lab's graduate students are barred from collaborating with one another.

Christopher Thomas Scott, 51, a bioethicist at Stanford University in Californiais quoted as saying "Quite frankly, it is the most bizarre thing I've ever encountered in basic science."

It could be worse . . . Harvard graduate students and research fellows paid with federal grants aren't allowed to collaborate with their colleagues in the lab of stem cell researcher Douglas Melton. The restrictions create awkward situations as researchers receiving federal funds technically aren't supposed to participate in a discussion over lunch with colleagues conducting privately funded experiments.

But are double labs really necessary? . . . Researchers at Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, California do stem cell work financed by government and private funds in the same space. The lead research here simply affixes stickers to each piece of equipment identifying the source of funds used to buy it and therefore, what it can be used for.


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