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Stem Cells and the Future of Regenerative Medicine
grounds and should be strictly scrutinized for compliance with existing and future federally mandated ethical guidelines.
Finding 6: The use of embryonic stem cells is not the first scientific advance to raise public concerns about ethical and social issues in biomedical research. Recombinant-DNA techniques likewise raised questions and were subject to intense debate and public scrutiny. In that case, a national advisory body, the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, was established at the National Institutes of Health to ensure that the research met with the highest scientific and ethical standards.
Recommendation: A national advisory group composed of outstanding researchers, ethicists, and other stakeholders should be established at 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.
Finding 7: Regenerative medicine is likely to involve the implantation of new tissue in patients with damaged or diseased organs. A substantial obstacle to the success of transplantation of any cells, including stem cells and their derivatives, is the immune-mediated rejection of foreign tissue by the recipient’s body. In current stem cell transplantation procedures with bone marrow and blood, success hinges on obtaining a close match between donor and recipient tissues and on the use of immunosuppressive drugs, which often have severe and potentially life-threatening side effects. To ensure that stem cell-based therapies can be broadly applicable for many conditions and people, new means of overcoming the problem of tissue rejection must be found. Although ethically controversial, the somatic cell nuclear transfer technique promises to have that advantage. Other options for this purpose include genetic manipulation