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Stem-Cell Research Is Hindered by Federal Policies, Study Finds

June 04, 2008

After years of complaints from American scientists that federal-government restrictions slow down research on human embryonic stem cells, one scientist says he has the data to back up the gripes.

Countries with less-restrictive policies, he reported today in the journal Cell Stem Cell, produce more publications in the area.

The comparison among 16 countries, conducted by Aaron D. Levine, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, used as a baseline publications in another forefront biomedical area, called RNAi, which has not been the subject of similar governmental restrictions. China, Britain, and Singapore were among the countries with less-restrictive policies on stem cells, and scientists in those countries published a lot on stem cells compared to RNAi.

But two researchers told The Scientist that publication rates may not be an accurate representation of research output because they mask how novel and influential the research is. —Lila Guterman