AAAS urges immediate public release of sources of embryonic stem cell lines

Washington D.C. - The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has urged the Bush Administration to publicly disclose the sources of the existing embryonic stem cell lines that constitute the centerpiece of the President's stem cell policy, noting that only by such disclosure can scientists assess the potential value of the cells for research and potential medical advances.

Embryonic stem cell research may have the potential to offer medical solutions for serious diseases that cause terrible suffering. AAAS therefore is "pleased that the President has decided to endorse federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research," according to a statement issued today.

The statement explains that information about the origin of these stem cells will be essential in determining their value in research as well as the intellectual property and financial restrictions that may affect federally funded scientists' access to the stem cell lines.

The statement also noted the importance of determining whether the cell lines "have been derived in a manner that would meet or exceed the ethical standards that the American public expects will be associated with such research."

According to AAAS, the President's plan to establish a new Council on Bioethics to recommend guidelines and standards for stem cell research and other biomedical advances can be important in fostering a national dialogue on advances in biomedical research. However, several issues must be addressed regarding membership of the Council, the scope of its mandate, and how it will conduct its business.

In order to gauge accurately the potential benefits of the Administration's policy, AAAS recommends that in the months ahead, "the scientific community report to the American public and to our government officialson whether the resources available-both the cell lines and funding- will be adequate to realize the full benefits we believe this research can yield.

Contact: Nisha Narayanan
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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