Brussels, 16 Jul 2003
A stem cell research project involving partners in 12 countries around the world was launched on 11 July with the aim of avoiding duplication and speeding up the discovery of treatments for degenerative diseases.
The collaboration was agreed at a meeting of the international stem cell forum, chaired by the UK's medical research council (MRC), which brought together scientists from Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Singapore, Israel, Japan, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, the US and the UK.
Research teams from these countries will examine new and existing stem cell lines using standardised tools and procedures in order to establish international benchmarks on cell line characteristics.
Professor George Radda, chief executive of the MRC, said: 'We're delighted to be one of the research agencies involved in this project. International coordination will accelerate progress in this cutting edge area of research, maximising health benefits for the global public.'
The data generated as a result of the project will be posted in a new online registry of stem cell lines currently being developed for the forum. Such data sharing will allow for comparison of results between countries and should, the forum hopes, stimulate further international collaborations.
In addition to the stem cell line characterisation project, the international stem cell forum will also promote cooperative planning among its members so that key research gaps can be identified and addressed. Meanwhile, partners in Canada and Australia will analyse and present international practices on ethical and patenting issues relating to stem cells.
On 15 July, the European Commission published the full text of its proposals to fund stem cell research under the Sixth Framework Programme. Professor Radda described the proposals as 'a positive step for the future of health and medicine'.
For more information on the international stem cell forum, please
To read the Commission's proposal on Community funding for stem cell research, please visit: