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NIH Stem Cell Guidelines Should Be Modified, UCSF Team Reports
Date:2/18/2010

, says Lo, chair of the UCSF Gamete, Embryonic Stem Cell Research Committee, members of which published the Science paper.

“We urge the NIH to revise its guidelines to require that gamete donors be advised that embryos containing their sperm or egg could be used for embryonic stem cell research, before they grant dispositional authority over embryos to the IVF patient,” he says. “Because some gamete donors may not approve of embryonic stem cell research, we consider this the ethically appropriate position.”

In their paper, the team recommends a process that is less complex than the detailed “informed consent” process carried out when IVF patients donate embryos for research. They suggest the disclosure to gamete donors may be made through oral discussion or brochures before donors sign a form authorizing the IVF patient to determine the disposition of embryos.

Importantly, says Lo, the gamete donors’ instructions would not disrupt the IVF process. IVF patients would learn of a gamete donor’s restrictions in advance of selecting embryos for IVF treatment, and could select other gamete donors if not satisfied with the donors’ disposition restrictions.

The recommendation is consistent with that of the National Academy of Sciences and the International Society for Stem Cell Research says Lo, a member of the ethics committee of the ISSCR, and the co-chair of the Standards Working Group of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“It would be highly desirable to have consistency among standards and regulations,'' he says. ''If such harmonization were achieved, many university Institutional Review Boards and other research oversight bodies would likely allow NIH-eligible human embryonic stem cell lines to be used for any otherwise acceptable hESC research.”

“It’s critical that we consider all parties involved in the creation of embr
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