Fewer than half the embryonic stem cell lines approved for federal funding are ready for research, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said while speaking on behalf of the Bush administration at a Wednesday Capitol Hill hearing.
In defending President Bush's restrictions on stem-cell research to skeptics in Congress, Thompson said he expects more of the existing cell lines to be fully developed by the time federal grants are issued next year, the Associated Press reports.
'Our challenge now is to move beyond the halls of debate and into the labs of science,' Thompson told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Thompson's statement came in response to an Aug. 9 announcement in which President Bush said he would allow limited federal funding for research using stem cells from human embryos.
However, some legislators, including Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., accused the Bush policy of hampering researchers and potentially delaying treatments for millions of Americans who suffer from Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other diseases, calling the regulations 'very troublesome.'
'It would be unacceptable to offer these patients and their families the promise of effective stem cell research but deny them the reality of it,' Kennedy said in the AP report.