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A microscopic view shows a colony of human embryonic stem cells (light blue) growing on fibroblasts (dark blue).Alan Trounson/California Institute for Regenerative Medicine/Reuters

A global organization of scientists has released updated guidelines for research into stem cells, the so-called "holy grail" of regenerative medicine.

The International Society for Stem Cell Research says its guidelines are aimed at assuring both the medical field and the public that research is being conducted with scientific and ethical integrity.

Society president Sean Morrison says the guidelines are essential for showing under what circumstances stem-cell treatments are safe and effective.

The new set of principles cover research integrity, transparency and patient welfare, while highlighting the need for accurate communication about the state of stem science to the public.

The ISSCR says scientists, clinicians, industry and the media all have a responsibility to present balanced reports of both the progress and setbacks related to stem-cell research.

The new guidelines were developed by a task force of 25 experts in stem-cell science, clinical research and bioethics from nine countries, including Canada.

"The public recognizes that stem-cell research holds promise for treating diseases and disorders affecting millions of people around the world," said Dr. George Daley, a professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard University, who helped develop the guidelines.

"We remain steadfast in our commitment that only safe and effective treatments based on proven science should be marketed to patients," Daley said in a statement.

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