As one who occasionally hits an oily patch, and who very nearly took a match to the draft a few days ago, and has instead over-displaced these last couple of days by scratching a couple of blog pieces – one on politics, one on how ID is actually insulting to the god it desperately attempts to blow wind up – but which I don’t think I’ll use (at least not yet, because I sometimes check that urge to vaingloriously rant off); nor am I going to comment on aspects of a book I’m reading that tries like buggery to convince (its author) that evolution and The Bible are exegetically compatible, because I haven’t finished it yet; and this morning I spent time filling in an application form to ‘Use stem cell lines from sources within the UK other than the UK Stem Cell Bank’, a requirement of the Steering Committee for the UK Stem Cell Bank and for the Use of Stem Cell Lines, and it occurred to me after a time, and checking of a few details, that this was completely unnecessary.
Now don’t get me wrong; I fully appreciate the issues associated with the derivation of human embryonic stem cell lines, and the necessity – and the benefit to researchers – for an organised system that makes approved lines available to others, and the associated need to record who’s distributing what and to whom. However, we have here four lines, obtained five years ago through a Material Transfer Agreement with researchers at Harvard University. All proper and above board. Although these lines are now banked by the UK Stem Cell Bank, they weren’t when we got them, so we didn’t obtain them from a UK source – and, as such, the form actually doesn’t apply. But wait. We’ve been (mis?)informed that we have to apply ‘retrospectively’ for permission to use lines now available from the UK Stem Cell Bank, even though we have extant permission to use them since prior to their deposition. And that’s every project PI, filling out a form for every project they run that uses them. Just to make sure, like.
And accompanying the form is a document entitled ‘Code of Practice for the use of Human Stem Cell Lines’, within the highly informative 71 pages (including appendices) of which, is a token three-line paragraph (page six) headed ‘Embryonic Germ Cells’, which reads:
‘Embryonic germ cells are another special class of stem cells derived from primordial germ cells; such cells have been shown in the mouse to be pluripotent. The situation for human cells is not yet clear.’
Yeah, don’t I know it?