WASHINGTON - Stem cells are back on political agendas in the U.S. and Europe and will remain in the spotlight as the U.S. Senate, U.K. Parliament and European Commission debate the ethical limits on deriving, using and creating embryonic cells for research and therapies.

In the U.S., NIH last week announced that it will immediately begin accepting applications to fund stem cell research under its recently finalized guidelines (see BioCentury Extra, Wednesday Aug. 23). Gerald Fischbach, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said the first awards will probably be made early next year.