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Stem Cell Res. 2009 Sep-Nov;3(2-3):96-105. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2009.05.003. Epub 2009 May 25.

Governing stem cell banks and registries: emerging issues.

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  • 1Centre de Recherche en Droit Public, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128 succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3J7, Canada.


The expansion of national and international research efforts in stem cell research is increasingly paired with the trend of establishing stem cell banks and registries. In jurisdictions crossing the spectrum of restrictive to liberal stem cell policies, banks and registries are emerging as an essential resource for transnational access to quality-controlled and ethically sourced stem cell lines. In this study, we report the preliminary findings of a survey of stem cell banks participating in the International Stem Cell Forum's International Stem Cell Banking Initiative (ISCBI). The questionnaire circulated to all ISCBI members addressed both general issues surrounding research policies (e.g., national policies regulating the permissibility of conducting embryonic stem cell research (hESCR)) and, more specifically, issues relating to the governance of stem cell banking projects. The results of the questionnaire were complemented by scholarly research conducted by the authors. This article provides an overview of the current international hESC banking landscape (I). For this purpose, the policy and governance approaches adopted in the surveyed stem cell banks at the national level will be analyzed and areas of convergence and variance will be identified (II). It is beyond the scope of this paper to provide a comprehensive analysis of the wide range of possible governance approaches, policy responses, and their implications. However, we want to provide a starting point for discussion surrounding key questions and challenges as concerns provenance, access, and deposit of hESC lines (III). Finally, while our analysis is focused on research grade hESCs, the lessons to be gleaned from this examination will encourage further thought, analysis, and research into the issues raised in the banking and governance of other sources of stem cell lines (e.g., SCNT, parthenogenesis, iPs) (IV).

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