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The Sad State of Stem Cells

An article in the Guardian takes a look at how stem cell scientists in the US have been forced to juggle research priorities with federal red tape. Since President Bush's 2001 ban on mingling government money with new embryonic stem cell lines, the day-to-day reality of conducting early stem cell research has been fraught with difficulties. In the case of Kevin Eggan, an assistant professor at Harvard University whose work touches on stem cell epigenetics, the effects of the federal ban have been felt at the level of partitioning his lab's equipment.

In one room there are two cryostats, used to prepare tissue for the microscope, standing side by side. One has a green sticker, the other red. Someone has put a label above the red machine, showing Mr. Bush pointing straight out and saying: "You there! No human ES cell sectioning on this machine!" 
Eggan's lab may sport amusing signs, but he isn't laughing. "I've spent the last three years of my life trying to get this sorted," he says in the article. "At least a third of my time is still spent keeping the accounts and equipment separate."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.