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Stem Cell Reports. 2020 Feb 11;14(2):169-174. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2019.12.008. Epub 2020 Jan 16.

Toward Guidelines for Research on Human Embryo Models Formed from Stem Cells.

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Department of Bioethics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH, USA; The Center for Bioethics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Centre for Stem Cell Systems, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME, USA. Electronic address:
Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Austrian Academy of Science, Vienna, Austria.
Hospital for Sick Children and the Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.


Over the past few years, a number of research groups have reported striking progress on the generation of in vitro models from mouse and human stem cells that replicate aspects of early embryonic development. Not only do these models reproduce some key cell fate decisions but, especially in the mouse system, they also mimic the spatiotemporal arrangements of embryonic and extraembryonic tissues that are required for developmental patterning and implantation in the uterus. If such models could be developed for the early human embryo, they would have great potential benefits for understanding early human development, for biomedical science, and for reducing the use of animals and human embryos in research. However, guidelines for the ethical conduct of this line of work are at present not well defined. In this Forum article, we discuss some key aspects of this emerging area of research and provide some recommendations for its ethical oversight.

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