Gov. Patrick To Overturn Romney's Stem Cell Restrictions

Before leaving the Massachusetts' Governor's office, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney added regulatory language to a legislative bill that was originally intended to only prohibit the creation of embryos for research purposes within the state. Romney's additional language appeared to also prevent Massachusetts scientists from accepting out-of-state stem cell lines created from research embryos.

Today, however, the Boston Globe headlines its edition with the news that newly elected Governor Deval Patrick will announce at a life sciences conference that he wants the Department of Public Health to reverse the restrictions.

Despite the outrage and attention generated by Romney's move, as the Globe reports, it's not clear if it had a tangible impact on research in the state :

A prominent stem cell scientist at Children's Hospital Boston, Dr. Leonard Zon, said that while the regulations have been a source of conversation among scientists across the nation, he was not aware of the rules deterring any scientists from doing research they wanted to pursue.

But with the pace of stem cell research accelerating, Zon said, the regulations, if unchanged, could cast a cloud over collaboration between Massachusetts scientists and colleagues elsewhere. "The stem cell field is really at its beginning," Zon said. "You really want to maintain as much interaction as possible to help the field move forward." If researchers believed that they faced criminal prosecution for accepting stem-cell lines from other scientists, "that really is a major impediment for me to do the research."

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