The ISSCR Will Release Updated Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation in May

  • 16 March, 2021
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Skokie, IL - The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), the largest professional organization of stem cell researchers from around the world, announced that the society’s updated Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation will be released in May 2021.

In 2019, the ISSCR recognized the recent rapid advances in stem cell research, its applications and the associated ethical issues; forming a task force to update the ISSCR Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation. The task force considered new recommendations regarding embryo research, embryo models, organoids, chimeras, germline genome editing, mitochondrial replacement techniques, genome editing, and the development of therapies. The task force is chaired by Robin Lovell-Badge, PhD, FRS (Francis Crick Institute, UK) and includes experts on stem cell biology, ethics, policy, and regulatory issues from 12 countries. The task force consulted external experts on multiple occasions, including peer reviewers from 14 countries.

“Stem cell research is rapidly advancing and yielding new understandings regarding human development and approaches for treating disease,” said Christine L. Mummery, PhD, ISSCR President (Leiden University, the Netherlands). “This research has the potential to accelerate the discovery of new treatments for disease, yield new therapies for devastating genetic disorders, and alleviate the shortage of organs for transplantations.” 

“The task force updating the ISSCR Guidelines evaluated the ethical issues associated with recent advances in stem cell research and will provide detailed guidance for evaluating the permissibility of research involving many ethically sensitive issues including in vitro embryo research,” said Dr. Lovell-Badge. “The updated ISSCR Guidelines will acknowledge the sensitivities surrounding the 14-day rule for in vitro embryo research and call for a public conversation about the scientific significance of in vitro embryo research as well as the associated societal and ethical issues.”

The ISSCR Guidelines update also will address a relatively new area of research that is receiving considerable attention—stem cell-based embryo models. “The recent stem cell-based models of embryo development are quickly evolving and may enable researchers to study a period of embryo development without destroying any human embryos,” said Amander Clark, PhD, Steering Committee Member, ISSCR Task Force to Update the ISSCR Guidelines (UCLA, USA). “Research using these models has the potential to understand a developmental period often referred to as the ‘black box.’ These models have the potential to improve treatments for infertility and interventions for congenital heart and brain defects and other genetic diseases. As these models continue to advance, research review committees will need a set of criteria for reviewing the permissibility of research proposals. The ISSCR’s updated guidelines will provide that detailed guidance needed for this area of research.”

In 2018, Nature encouraged scientists to adopt the ISSCR Guidelines. In December 2020, Nature identified the release of the updated ISSCR Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation as one of the “Science Events to Watch in 2021.”

Contact: Kym Kilbourne,

About the International Society for Stem Cell Research (
With nearly 4,000 members from more than 60 countries, the International Society for Stem Cell Research is the preeminent global, cross-disciplinary, science-based organization dedicated to stem cell research and its translation to the clinic. The ISSCR mission is to promote excellence in stem cell science and applications to human health. Additional information about stem cell science is available at A Closer Look at Stem Cells, an initiative of the Society to inform the public about stem cell research and its potential to improve human health.