human stem cell research, human embryonic stem cells, hESCs, hESC, NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry, office for human research protections, OHRP, human pluripotent stem cell research prohibited with NIH funding

4.1.13 Human Stem Cell Research

Under Executive Order 13505 NIH may support and conduct responsible, scientifically worthy human stem cell research, including human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research, to the extent permitted by law. NIH Guidelines on Human Stem Cell Research, implement the Executive Order. The Guidelines apply to the expenditure of NIH funds for research using hESCs and certain uses of induced pluripotent stem cells.

For the purpose of NIH Guidelines, "human embryonic stem cells (hESCs)" are cells that are derived from the inner cell mass of blastocyst stage human embryos, are capable of dividing without differentiating for a prolonged period in culture and are known to develop into cells and tissues of the three primary germ layers. Although hESCs are derived from embryos, such stem cells are not themselves human embryos.

NIH recipients may use hESCs that have been approved by NIH in accord with NIH Guidelines and are posted on the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry, or may establish eligibility of specific cell lines for NIH funding by submitting a Request for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Line to be Approved for Use in NIH Funded Research (NIH Form 2890). Prior to the use of NIH funds, applicants and recipients must provide assurances, when endorsing applications and progress reports submitted to NIH for projects using hESCs, that the hESCs to be used are listed on the NIH Registry and will be used in accordance with any restrictions associated with the line as cited on the Registry. If a specific line from the NIH Registry cannot be identified at the time of submission, the applicant/recipient must provide a strong justification why one cannot be identified at that time and a certification that one from the NIH Registry will be used.

DHHS regulations for Protection of Human Subjects, 45 CFR Part 46, Subpart A, establish safeguards for individuals who are the sources of many human tissues used in research, including non-embryonic human adult stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells. When research involving human adult stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells constitutes human subject research, Institutional Review Board review may be required and informed consent may need to be obtained per the requirements detailed in 45 CFR Part 46, Subpart A.

In addition, 45 CFR Part 46, Subpart A, may apply to certain research using hESCs. This regulation applies, among other things, to research involving individually identifiable private information about a living individual, 45 CFR Part 46.102(f). The HHS Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) considers biological material, such as cells derived from human embryos, to be individually identifiable when they can be linked to specific living individuals by the investigators either directly or indirectly through coding systems. Thus, in certain circumstances, IRB review may be required, in addition to compliance with these Guidelines. Applicant institutions are urged to consult OHRP guidance. Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research Prohibited with NIH Funding

The following uses of hESCs, even if derived from embryos donated in accordance with NIH Guidelines and listed on the NIH Registry, or human induced pluripotent stem cells, are prohibited:

  • Research in which hESCs or human induced pluripotent stem cells are introduced into non-human primate blastocysts.

  • Research involving the breeding of animals where the introduction of hESCs or human induced pluripotent stem cells may contribute to the germ line.

In addition, the derivation of stem cells from human embryos is prohibited in NIH funded research by the annual appropriations ban on funding of human embryo research known as the Dickey Wicker Amendment. NIH funding for research using hESCs derived from other sources, including somatic cell nuclear transfer, parthenogenesis, and/or IVF embryos created for research purposes, is also prohibited.

NIH will also not fund research in which human pluripotent cells are introduced into non-human vertebrate animal pre-gastrulation stage embryos.