I just posted an abstract from the laboratory of Douglas Melton in the Stem Cell Research Forum. As people might remember, Doug Melton is the Harvard scientist who has diabetic children and who made 17 new human embryonic stem cell lines several months ago. He clearly has a strong interest in stem cell research that can reverse diabetes.

This study was also covered by The Boston Globe in an article called Discovery shifts focus on diabetes. They found that new islet cells that produce insulin in the pancrease are not made by stem cells but by other islet cells, arguing against circulating adult mesenchymal stem cells are the source of new islet cells.

This is one of an increasing number of articles that argue against the pluripotency of adult stem cells. There is an increasing chorus of voices from some of the most prominent scientists in the field that mesenchymal stem cells (the main adult stem cells in bone marrow) may not be as pluripotent as they have been claimed. Note that this study does not necessarily show that mesenchymal stem cells cannot produce pancreatic islet cells. It just shows that they do not.

The Boston Globe reported on May 23 that only 19 usable human embryonic stem cell lines were created before August 9, 2001 when Bush banned NIH funding for research on stem cell lines derived after that date. The number of human embryonic stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001 now exceeds 51. According to othe article:
By restricting American use of these cells, they say, the government is effectively keeping them out of the hands of many top scientists -- both slowing the pace of research that could lead to cures, and potentially putting the country behind in technologies that could be major business opportunities in the new century.
The article pointed out that laboratories in Singapore, Israel, Sweden, and Finland have isolated humane embryonic stem cell lines that were not grown on mouse feeder cells. Apparently, only one American laboratory has done so, by Susan Fisher's California laboratory, that is barred from receiving federal funding and is supported by Geron Corp.

A May 23 Boston Globe article surveyed the field again and found that 128 new human embryonic stem cell lines had been created since August 9, 2001 and are not eligible for NIH funded research. Of these 94 were created abroad and 34 were created in the U.S. But only 51 of the cell lines are available for U.S. scientists, however. A number of cell lines, however, are avaiting validation and processing. There is currently no organization that tracks all of the world's human embryonic stem cell lines. Peter Andrews, a professor at the University of Sheffield in Great Britain, is heading an effort to catalog and systematically characterize all of the worlds embryonic stem cell lines, as part of an organization called the International Stem Cell forum.