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Stem Cell-Based Embryo Models – a code of practice for research

Stem cell-based embryo models (SCBEMs) are three-dimensional biological structures that mimic aspects of early human embryo development.  They can be created in the lab from stem cells, and can provide new insights into critical stages of early human development that are normally inaccessible to researchers.

A previous lack of a specific regulatory framework for the use of SCBEMs in research has left scientists and research organisations uncertain about the acceptable boundaries of their work, both legally and ethically.  A group of scientists, legal and bioethics experts, regulators and funders from across the UK have been working to try to produce clear guidance for this developing field of science.  The work has been led by the University of Cambridge, in partnership with the Progress Educational Trust, and brings together experts from a range of institutions across the UK, representing world-leading expertise in developmental biology, law and ethics.

Now, this team has created and are publishing the first ever UK guidelines for the generation and use of SCBEMs.  The new SCBEM Code of Practice proposes clear guidance and oversight processes, to bring greater transparency and openness to the research and reassurance to the public.

The SCBEM Code of Practice was developed by researchers and practitioners from the Babraham Institute, Biolawgy, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King’s College London, the Francis Crick Institute, Hull York Medical School, the Medical Research Council, Newcastle University, University College London, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Exeter and the University of Manchester.

Journalists came to this press briefing to hear from those who have developed the Code of Practice, and to ask their questions.


Speakers included:

Prof Roger Sturmey, Professor of Reproductive Medicine, Hull York Medical School, University of Hull; and Chair of the SCBEM Code of Practice Working Group.

Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn, Group Leader and Head of Public Engagement at the Babraham Institute Member of the SCBEM Code of Practice Working Group

Sandy Starr, Deputy Director of the Progress Educational Trust (PET); and member of the SCBEM Code of Practice Project Team

Christina Rozeik, Programme Manager, Cambridge Reproduction; and member of the SCBEM Code of Practice Project Team


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