The National Institutes of Health said Wednesday that it had approved 13 new human embryonic stem cell lines for use by federally financed researchers, with another 96 lines under review.
The action followed President Obama’s decision in March to expand the number of such cell lines beyond those available under a policy set by President George W. Bush, which permitted research to begin only with lines already available on Aug. 9, 2001.
Since that date, biomedical researchers supported by the N.I.H. have had to raise private money to derive the cells, which are obtained from the fertilized embryos left over from in vitro fertility clinics.
With federal money banned from being used in any part of the work on the derived lines, researchers had to divide their laboratories and go to extreme lengths to separate research materials based on the financing source.
“You can imagine what it meant not to be able to carry a pipette from one room to another,” said Ali H. Brivanlou, a researcher at Rockefeller University. “They even had to repaint the walls to ensure no contamination by federal funds.”
Two of the newly approved 13 lines were derived by Dr. Brivanlou with private financing. The rest were prepared by Dr. George Daley of Children’s Hospital, Boston.
Dr. Daley said that private financing had been drying up and that he was eager to start research on the now-approved cell lines with the help of his federal grant money.
The director of the health agency, Dr. Francis S. Collins, said he believed most researchers would be satisfied with the outcome, even though they were still barred from deriving the cells themselves. “I’m not sure everyone is interested in deriving their own cell lines as long as they can get lines from others,” Dr. Collins said.