Stem cells' regenerative capabilities present a unique opportunity to treat human illness and injury. In 2003, the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) issued a position statement supporting stem cell use in research settings. Almost a decade later, in response to legislative and technological developments within the field of stem cell science, NSGC convened a task force to revisit and update its statement on stem cell research. In doing so, the Task Force developed a new statement reaffirming NSGC's support for stem cell research and endorsed continued stem cell therapy development. NSGC recognizes that the unique potential of stem cell therapy to treat human disease and injury can be realized only through research on a diverse array of stem cell lines drawn from multiple sources, including embryonic, cord blood, and adult cells. NSGC supports the use of stem cells in research and clinical settings when practices adhere to defined ethical and legal guidelines. Available stem cell lines should reflect our genetically diverse population, and donor recruitment should be without discrimination or coercion and include a thorough and dynamic informed consent process.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
While former President George W. Bush did not ban all funding for stem cell research, he restricted federally funded researchers to stem cell lines in existence prior to June 2001 to prevent federal money from directly or indirectly funding the destruction of embryos. In 2009, President Barack Obama revoked the Bush-era regulations by permitting federal funds for research “with scientific merit” on all available stem cell lines, including new hESC lines, provided that the donors were appropriately consented. Researchers responded with projects tailored to the new guidelines, but these efforts ground to a halt in August 2010 when U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lam-berth issued an injunction to federally funded stem cell research in response to a lawsuit filed by iPSC researchers.1 Currently, using embryonic stem cell lines does not violate federal law. However, existing law prohibits using government funding to create hESC lines (National Institutes of Health Stem Cell Information, Federal policy, 2009a).
2Definition: Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell-like state by being forced to express genes and factors important for maintaining the defining properties of embryonic stem cells. Source: Stem Cell Information website provided by the National Institutes of Health (stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics).
- National Society of Genetic Counselors
- Position statement
- Stem cell
- Stem cell research
- Stem cell therapy