Scientists from 12 countries have officially launched a new organization designed to promote collaboration on stem cell research and to speed up the development of new medical treatments.

Called the International Stem Cell Forum, the new body was sanctioned at a meeting chaired by the UK's Medical Research Council (MRC) in London on July 11. The launch comes just 6 months after the MRC announced it was setting up an informal discussion forum to tackle stem cell research on a global rather than national basis.

The main aim is to produce international scientific benchmarks on the characteristics of new and existing stem cell lines. This will be achieved by inviting researchers from major institutions in each of the member countries to examine cell lines, using standardized tools and procedures.

Apart from the UK representatives, signatories include the US National Institutes of Health, the National Health and Medical Research Council...

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