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Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Stem Cell Research Amended

Updated guidelines reflect expanded role of National Institutes of Health

THURSDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- The National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) have released amended voluntary guidelines for the ethical conduct of research involving human embryonic stem (hES) cells.

R. Alta Charo, J.D., of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and Richard O. Hynes, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, co-chaired the committee which produced the report. The original hES cell guidelines were published in 2005 and amended in 2007 and 2008; the 2010 guidelines take into account the new, expanded role of the National Institutes of Health in overseeing hES cell research.

Where there is overlap between the Research Council/IOM guidelines and the NIH's guidelines, the committee states that the NIH's guidelines will take precedence. Non-NIH guidelines -- such as the amended guidelines recommended by the Research Council and IOM -- will continue to be used for guidance for hES cell research if the cell lines are derived using nonfederal funds, if the cell lines are derived from any sources other than excess embryos created for reproductive purposes, and when experiments use mixtures of human and animal cells that the NIH guidelines do not address.

"Both the state of hES cell research and clinical practice and public policy surrounding these topics are in a state of flux and are likely to be so for several years. Therefore, the committee believes that mechanisms should be established to assess periodically the adequacy of the policies and guidelines proposed in this document and elsewhere and to provide a forum for a continuing discussion of issues involves in hES cell research," the authors write.

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