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Hinxton Group Releases Recommendations for Stem Cell Science at AAAS Event

The scientific enterprise is based on norms of openness and free exchange, but with advances in stem cell research and related medical therapies, tension is arising because of fairly new policies and practices controlling data and materials sharing and intellectual property, says a statement released by the influential Hinxton Group.

The statement was developed last fall at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and discussed 24 January in an event at AAAS.

There is “a growing concern within the field about the tensions that exist between the desire to hold closely data and materials and to take intellectual property in stem cell science, and the desires to translate basic science into treatments and products,” said Debra JH Mathews, a Hinxton Group member and assistant director for science programs at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University.

The Hinxton Group’s fall meeting was held from 31 October to 2 November 2010 and included over 40 participants from eight countries. The AAAS panel discussion, co-hosted by the Berman Institute, marked the release of the group’s third Consensus Statement.

The Hinxton Group is comprised of individuals interested in well-regulated science. The group’s name comes from the location of the first meeting in Hinxton, UK.

The Hinxton Group first met in February 2006 to discuss international cooperation in stem cell research. Since its first meeting, the group has had over 100 participants based in 17 countries. The participants’ professional backgrounds range from scientists and clinicians to ethics & policy experts. Its most recent statement issues recommendations for how the stem cell science field can progress more rapidly and efficiently.

“What we were trying to do with this project was to identify the most significant challenges being faced by scientists both in the academic and commercial sectors and other stakeholders within stem cell science,” said Mathews.

In the third Consensus Statement, the group responded to the tension by developing recommendations for stem cell research. The recommendations include creating a global database for sharing data, materials, and intellectual property.

The databases would give researchers a center for information published in open literature as well access to materials in stem cell science. The group hopes that the creation of these databases would help stem cell research progress efficiently.

Accompanying Mathews on the panel were Robin Lovell-Badge, head of the Division of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics at the Medical Research Council National Institute for Medical Research (UK); and Robert Cook-Deegan, director of the Center for Genome Ethics, Law & Policy at Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy.


Read the Hinxton Group’s full statement.