debate and to the enhancement of treatments for disabling human diseases and injuries. On August 9, 2001, when President Bush announced a new federal policy permitting limited use of human embryonic stem cells for research, this report was already in review. Because this report presents the committee’s interpretation of the state of the science of stem cells independent of any specific policy, only minor modifications to refer to the new policy have been made in the report.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Studies with human stem cells are essential to make progress in the development of treatments for human disease, and this research should continue.

  2. Although stem cell research is on the cutting edge of biological science today, it is still in its infancy. Studies of both embryonic and adult human stem cells will be required to most efficiently advance the scientific and therapeutic potential of regenerative medicine. Research on both adult and embryonic human stem cells should be pursued.

  3. While there is much that can be learned using existing stem cell lines if they are made widely available for research, concerns about changing genetic and biological properties of these stem cell lines necessitate continued monitoring as well as the development of new stem cell lines in the future.

  4. Human stem cell research that is publicly funded and conducted under established standards of open scientific exchange, peer review, and public oversight offers the most efficient and responsible means to fulfill the promise of stem cells to meet the need for regenerative medical therapies.

  5. If the federal government chooses to fund human stem cell research, proposals to work on human embryonic stem cells should be required to justify the decision on scientific grounds and should be strictly scrutinized for compliance with existing and future federally mandated ethical guidelines.

  6. A national advisory group composed of exceptional researchers, ethicists, and other stakeholders should be established at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to oversee research on human embryonic stem cells. The group should include leading experts in the most current scientific knowledge relevant to stem cell research who can evaluate the technical merit of any proposed research on human embryonic stem cells. Other roles for the group could include evaluation of potential risks to research subjects and ensuring compliance with all legal requirements and ethical standards.

  7. In conjunction with research on stem cell biology and the development of potential stem cell therapies, research on approaches that prevent immune rejection of stem cells and stem cell-derived tissues should be actively pursued. These scientific efforts include the use of a number of techniques to manipulate the genetic makeup of stem cells, including somatic cell nuclear transfer.



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