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New stem cell guidelines address key scientific, ethical, social and policy challenges

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), a professional organization of stem cell scientists, has released newly updated guidelines for stem cell research and the development of new clinical therapies. ISSCR said the updates come at a time when rapidly evolving technologies like gene editing in human embryos and emerging areas of stem cell discovery and its applications are providing unprecedented opportunities to understand human biology and disease, but also raising questions that have social and ethical implications.

"The field of stem cell research is growing at a rapid pace, with scientists and physicians developing new therapies that can help patients around the world who suffer from a wide variety of conditions," said Sean J. Morrison, Ph.D., ISSCR president and director of the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern. "These guidelines are essential to protect the integrity of the research and to assure that stem cell treatments are safe and effective."

The ISSCR developed earlier sets of guidelines that are widely followed by researchers and institutions around the world. The 2016 guidelines update and expand those topic areas and bring all guidance together under common principles of research integrity, patient welfare, respect for research subjects, transparency and social justice.

The guidelines were developed by an international task force of 25 experts in stem cell science, clinical research and bioethics, with review and feedback from 85 external individuals and organizations.

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