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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Academies' Panel Urges Local Oversight of Stem Cell Research
26 April 2005 (All day)
The National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine today called for the creation of a new layer of oversight at institutions where research on human embryonic stem (ES) cells is conducted. Although the academy panel that drafted the new guidelines makes several recommendations about the use of these cells, it leaves many of the tough questions to local committees.
The panel's report calls on every institution that hosts human ES cell research to set up an Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight (ESCRO) committee containing experts well versed in the field's scientific, medical, legal, and ethical questions. In addition to keeping track of all research involving human ES cells, the committees are urged to review everything related to the derivation of new cell lines, whether created from leftover blastocysts from fertility treatments, through nuclear transfer (otherwise known as research cloning), or "made specifically for research" by in vitro fertilization of donor sperm and egg.
The report dwells at length on the need for informed consent from donors of eggs, sperm, blastocysts, or somatic cells for ES cell research. It also confirms that no research should be allowed on embryos over 14 days old. The committee saw only limited scientific potential in other approaches for generating cell lines that might bypass ethical difficulties (Science, 24 December 2004, p. 2174).
On the controversial topic of using ES cells to create chimeras—animals that contain the genome of a different animal in some of their cells—the panel notes that chimeras are valuable for testing the qualities of human ES cells. However, because pluripotent cells have the potential to turn into many kinds of cells, the committee says no animal ES cells should be injected into human blastocysts, and no human ES cells should be allowed into the blastocysts of other primates. And because ES cells can theoretically travel to the gonads and produce sperm and egg cells, no animal that has received human ES cells should be allowed to breed.
The panel also recommends creation of a national entity to periodically assess the adequacy of the guidelines and provide a forum for continuing discussion.
The recommendations make sense, says Irving Weissman of Stanford University, who was not on the panel. "These issues transcend the usual expertise of institutional review boards."