27 April 2009

Embryos for spare parts: it's time to discuss the problem

Storm over embryo 'bank' which could be used as a body repair kit
The Daily Mail, 25th April 2009
The storm around the "bank" of embryos that can be used to "repair" the bodyTranslation: Inopressa
Married couples may be allowed to keep their embryos to create new body parts and treat diseases, writes The Daily Mail.

According to current British law, embryos can be preserved for up to 5 years, but exclusively for reproduction. There is now a debate about whether it is permissible to use embryos to produce stem cells from which any part of the body can be obtained. Scientists believe that in 10 years stem cells can be used to treat various diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, as well as some forms of cancer. In addition, embryos can be used to grow new organs – "spare parts" for the body, the newspaper notes.

However, the idea of embryo preservation causes ethical debate, since couples can decide on in vitro fertilization solely in order to create a "repair kit" for the body. According to the general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Paul Tully, "commercial firms will certainly exploit human fears concerning degenerative diseases." He called such commercialization of human embryos inhumane.

In October, an amendment to the law will come into force, allowing the storage of embryos for 55 years instead of 5. The Committee on Human Fertilization and Embryology (HFEA) has already approved the creation of "brothers-saviors" for children suffering from serious diseases: with the help of in vitro fertilization, a child with an identical tissue composition was born, and blood stem cells from his umbilical cord were used to treat a sick child. According to experts, this method marks an ethical leap in the use of embryos for the "repair" of the body.

According to Dr. Richard Kennedy, stem cell technologies will step forward in the next ten years, making the aforementioned ethical disputes well-founded.

Portal "Eternal youth" www.vechnayamolodost.ru27.04.2009

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