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Human embryos created for cell harvest

发布时间:2019-03-06 08:20:01来源:未知点击:

By Emma Young For the first time, human embryos have been created and then destroyed solely to provide a source of stem cells, says a US team. Until now, the embryos used for harvesting the “pluripotent” cells had been discarded following IVF treatment. The team at the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk, Virginia, created the embryos using donor eggs and sperm. The donated eggs were from young women. Women undergoing IVF are often in their mid-30s, and may produce poorer quality eggs, the team says. They argue that stem cells from the resulting embryos may also be of poorer quality. Writing in the journal Fertility and Sterility, the team says it was their “duty to provide humankind with the best understanding of early development”. But the research has been heavily criticised by ethicists in the US. Peter Andrew, an expert on stem cells at Sheffield University, told New Scientist that genetic differences between people are likely to have a much greater effect on embryonic stem cell “behaviour” and their ability to grow in the lab than the age of the mother. Andrew adds: “The issue is not so much the quality of the embryonic stem cells at the end, as the ability to extract them. And what we have seen is that researchers are able to extract stem cells from discarded embryos at a phenomenal rate.” Although creating embryos for stem cell research is also legal in the UK, it has not been carried out, says the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates embryo research. The US team say 12 women, who were paid up to $2,000 each, donated eggs specifically for the research. Two men also donated sperm. Ethicists have condemned the work. It is “a cautionary tale against starting down the slope”,