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The total number of human embryonic stem cell lines eligible for study with US federal fund is now 40, with the addition of 27 lines on Monday. According to The Scientist, NIH director Francis Collins, did, however, limit the use of these lines to diabetes-related pancreatic research, which was the consent forms stated the cells would be used to study. These lines were part of 28 submitted for approval by Harvard University. The 28th line was not recommended for approval as it was derived during a time when the school's IRB had lapsed.

Over in Ireland, the Supreme Court ruled that "human embryos outside the womb are not 'unborn,' and therefore are not protected under the country's constitution," says ScienceInsider. Siobhán O'Sullivan, the director of the Irish Council for Bioethics, says that human embryonic stem cell research, and assisted reproduction, in Ireland fall in a legal vacuum. "The fact that the government has not yet regulated this area is absolutely incredible and very unfortunate indeed," she says. "It doesn't actually matter which side of the debate you sit on; what we have right now is cowboy territory."

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.