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US Guidelines for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

US-Academy: Guidelines for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

By Marietta Gross - Scoop Media Auckland.

The National Academy of Sciences of the United States has published substantial principles for stem cell research. These are strongly suggesting a voluntary self-commitment.

As there are no existing legal regulations the Academy suggested the guidelines should function as a base for the entire US research community.

The codes describe for example obligations for so-called 'research cloning'. They also suggest that the common payment for embryonic donors be prohibited. Moreover Stem cell researchers should avoid conflicts of interest by keeping a distance from reproductive medicine. Scientists shouldn’t be able to put pressure on doctors and patients to produce more embryos than necessary during in-vitro-fertilisation treatment

The National Academy of Sciences, which was founded in 1863 by the US Senate, is politically and financially autonomous. It had repeatedly argued for an improved encouragement of research with human stem cells.

“A substantial body of rules and regulations for the extraction, application and stocking of human stem cells for the entire science is the best way to bring forward the research”, said Richard Hynes, cancer specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-author of these guidelines.

It is also foreseen to establish national committees to execute these rules. The guidelines should be periodically checked in regard to their practicality.

The report includes a clear prohibition to reproductive cloning. However, therapeutic cloning should still be possible, due to the prohibition of Government aid for such projects enacted by George W. Bush in 2001.

The US-Academy recommends extracting stem cells from embryos that are not older than 14 days. Here the scientists see a border in terms of life creation, a point at which the central nervous system is beginning to develop.

The guiding principles also insist that researchers must ascertain in each individual case if there is an authorisation by the donator for the embryo to be used. In addition donors must be informed that they can withdraw their agreement at any time.

The national rules also deal with the question how far human and animal cells or genetic information may be mixed. The Academy suggests insertion of animal stem cells into human embryos be banned. However the obverse - insertion of human cells into animals - should be allowed after an explicit permission by the controlling institution responsible. Only the use of apes is excluded in this guideline.


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