New Rules on Stem Cell Research Announced - washingtonpost.com New Rules on Stem Cell Research Announced By Shankar Vedantam Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, July 6, 2009 2:08 PM The Obama administration today announced far-reaching new guidelines on the use of stem cells in medical research, and promised federal funds to study many of the hundreds of stem cell lines whose use was prohibited by the Bush administration. President Obama had promised during the presidential campaign to ease restrictions on the use of stem cells in research, and has cited the promise of stem cell research in finding cures for disorders that have so far proven intractable. The new guidelines were announced today by officials at the National Institutes of Health. In an important shift from draft guidelines issued April 23, the NIH announced that stem lines developed before the guidelines go into effect tomorrow -- Tuesday, July 7 -- will not need to meet the letter of new ethics requirements. This means that the conflict of interest policy articulated earlier -- embryos must have been leftover from clinically necessary in-vitro fertilization procedures and full informed consent be given for their use -- be a rule that is observed in principle. Programs that did not adhere to the standard on procedural grounds, but did adhere to the spirit of the standard, will now be deemed permissible, with an NIH committee making a case by case decision. Officials stressed that only ethically derived stem cell lines would be eligible for federally funded research. Announcing the new guidelines, Raynard S. Kington, the acting director of NIH, said that during the Bush years, privately funded researchers in the United States and a number of foreign laboratories had used a variety of protocols to obtain informed consent and meet other ethical requirements. He said it did not make sense to reject those stem cell lines merely because the ethics procedures used were different from the procedures that are required for new stem cell lines.