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"The situation at the moment is worse than it was under the Bush administration," said Charles Murry, a professor of pathology and bioengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. "Because of this, we are going to waste a lot of time."At issue is the fate of the 21 "lines of cells" that President George W. Bush said could receive federal funding.Bush limited federal funding to the lines that were already in existence in 2001. He wanted to prevent taxpayer dollars from encouraging the destruction of more embryos to create more lines. Critics of the research praised Bush's move, arguing that destroying embryos to obtain the cell lines is immoral. But the restrictions were condemned by many scientists, who argued they were hindering research that could lead to cures for Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, paralysis and other ailments.Obama's attempt to loosen restrictions on federal funding was complicated by a thicket of ethical issues. Last summer, the National Institutes of Health issued detailed guidelines aimed at addressing those concerns. The guidelines included stringent requirements that any lines being studied with federal funding meet strict new ethical criteria, including making sure couples who donated the embryos for the lines' creation were fully informed of other options.The problem is that it remains unclear how many of the original 21 lines, which researchers have spent millions of dollars and nearly a decade studying, were derived at a time when ethical requirements were less specific, leaving in doubt how many would pass muster under the tough new guidelines."Some of these lines were derived more than a decade ago, and some of the researchers who derived them aren't around anymore," said Timothy J. Kamp, director of the stem cell and regenerative medicine center at the University of Wisconsin. "Some of those records may not be available. Some providers of those original lines might not be motivated to provide those records in a timely fashion."
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