Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cashing in on Hope

A recent scheme devised by a California-based company that would allow parents to store stem cell lines created from their embryos is coming under fire from experts:
Under the scheme couples pay for stem cells to be extracted and stored, in the hope that medical breakthroughs will make it possible to use them to treat diseases in the family. It costs about £8,500 to have cells collected from surplus embryos and stored for 20 years.

But fertility researchers said the service, which has been approved in the US, exploited parents' fears and was based on unproven technology.

Robert Winston, the Hammersmith hospital fertility specialist, said: "It's a clear example of exploitation of the worries of couples about the fate of their children. I would be horrified if anyone tried to do this in Britain."

John Paul Maytum, of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said a British company would not be permitted to use embryos to create stem cells if there was no clear idea what they would be used for. "It is very difficult to see how that would pass the 'necessary and desirable' test for the use of human embryos."


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