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Stem Cell Research - The Work of Worldwide Forums and Organizations

April 2009

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Ironically, the carrying out of scientific research is usually an imperfect science! Small and large studies are done, the results are catalogues and discrepancies noted, work can be duplicated or makes incorrect assumptions. Adult stem cell cures are vitally important to the future of medicine - we look at how an organization is overcoming the human limitations on stem cell research.

We are only human, after all- and despite our scientists’ best efforts towards a coordinated approach, that builds on or clarifies earlier studies without duplicating them, the research of technologies like stem cell transplants and adult stem cell cures can be very difficult to coordinate. That is why organizations like the International Stem Cell Forum have sprung up - we look at their structure, purpose, and role in helping patients undergoing stem cell therapy in Thailand and elsewhere.

The International Stem Cell Forum is a collection of 21 funders of stem cell research worldwide. Some large member countries include The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, the Danish Center for Stem Cell Research, Singapore's Biomedical Research Council, and Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council. It basically aims to help stem cell therapy providers in Thailand, and worldwide, create potent therapies for a wide range of currently incurable human diseases, as well as gaining insights into human biology and the cell development process. Like any organization, the members have agreed to several key principles in their stem cell research. All are opposed to human reproductive cloning, and are encouraged to explore somatic human adult stem cells as well as embryonic stem cells. The creation of embryonic stem cell lines should be limited in research, and ethical and intellectual property rights issues are also harmonized through the use of the forum.

One of the most important events since the founding of the ISCF in 2003 was a symposium held in June 2007, where more than 8-0 scientists around the world came to share their research into stem cell transplants, cord blood cells and how they can assist with injury recovery and human diseases. Collectively, the scientists found they had characterized 59 human embryonic stem cell lines, and through this, had determined a set of markers to help other scientists reproduce their work and move it forward. This free-information attitude, disregarding the glory of stem cell discoveries, is what will most benefit research. These same scientists have recently been coordinating to achieve comprehensive, faster research results in areas like human induced pluripotent stem cells, which have many of the benefits of embryonic stem cells without much of the ethical debate.

The ethical committee of the International Stem Cell Forum was one of the first established by the stem cell research body. Human adult stem cell cures have moved ahead in leaps and bounds since the inception of the forum, with Thailand stem cell therapy for many previously incurable diseases now freely available. Therefore, ethics are no longer as large a part of the debate as they once were, yet the ISCF's focus on them assures policy makers that moral codes have been adhered to in stem cell research. THE ISCF has developed a 50-country comparative study of stem cell regulations, as well as providing advice on cultural differences, ethical and legal issues relating to stem cell transplants.

Another of the ISCF's important activities from a scientific point of view is the Stem Cell Registry, which allows parties to find stem cell lines either by the laboratory that identified them, or by the name of the line. It aims to establish an international set of criteria and standards for characterizing stem cell lines.


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