WASHINGTON -- The National Academies today recommended guidelines for research involving human embryonic stem cells, and urged all institutions conducting such research to establish oversight committees to ensure that the new guidelines will be followed. The guidelines are intended to enhance the integrity of privately funded human embryonic stem cell research by encouraging responsible practices, said the committee that wrote the report, a joint project between the National Academies' National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.
"Heightened oversight is essential to assure the public that stem cell research is being carried out in an ethical manner," said committee co-chair Jonathan D. Moreno, Emily Davie and Joseph S. Kornfeld Professor of Biomedical Ethics and director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. "The oversight we call for will in many instances set a higher standard than required by existing laws or regulations. And while we were hesitant to recommend another bureaucratic oversight entity, the burden in this case is justified, given the novel and controversial nature of embryonic stem cell research."
"A standard set of requirements for deriving, storing, distributing, and using embryonic stem cell lines -- one to which the entire U.S. scientific community adheres -- is the best way for this research to move forward," added committee co-chair Richard O. Hynes, Daniel K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight, or ESCRO, committees should be established, but not as replacements for other research compliance bodies such as institutional review boards, the guidelines say. In addition to experts in biology and stem cell research, ESCRO committees should include legal and ethical experts as well as representatives of the public.
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Contact: William Kearney
The National Academies
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