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EU stem cell laws could inhibit research

7 March 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 298

European scientists who want to work on human embryonic stem cells (ES) may feel inhibited by laws in their own countries that ban such research, even if they are working elsewhere. The problems arising from the diverse range of regulations governing stem cell research in Europe were raised in a recent meeting of the Eurostem project, reported by the Daily Telegraph last week. This initiative, coordinated by John Harris of the University of Manchester, is seeking to draw up an ethical framework that will address these issues.

In the UK, scientists are permitted to carry out research on stem cells derived from human embryos. 'Therapeutic cloning' - the proposed use of cloned embryo stem cells to develop genetically-matched cell therapies - is also permitted. Earlier this year, scientists at the Roslin Institute received a licence allowing them to clone embryos for research into motor neurone disease. They are the second group in the UK to be given permission to carry out such work - in August last year, a team at Newcastle University received a licence to derive cloned embryo stem cells for diabetes research. However, therapeutic cloning research is banned in many other European Union (EU) countries, including France and Germany.

The laws governing embryo stem cell research vary widely throughout the EU, with some countries banning all research on human embryos, while others permit research on embryos left over from fertility treatment, but not the creation of embryos for research. According to Harris, these different regulatory approaches have created 'a headache' for the EU. 'Whether a French or German scientist would be prosecuted if they came to work here is doubtful but there is no doubt that scientists feel inhibited by this', he said. Harris said that this situation is 'inhibiting the European ideal, the free movement of citizens, workers and knowledge'.

The Eurostem project partners have drawn up a draft ethical framework, which recommends that scientists should not be criminalised for legal activity in one country, even if it is illegal in another, nor should they face discrimination or restriction.

EU minefield for stem cell researchers
The Daily Telegraph |  2 March 2005
11 December 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
The European Parliament's approval of funding for some human embryonic stem cell research reflects inequality in how individual countries recognise fundamental rights, according to a Vatican official. Following 19 months of negotiations and 2000 amendments - 700 of which were put to a vote - the 7th Framework...
31 July 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
UK physicist Stephen Hawking, who has motor neuron disease, has described the recent decision on European Union (EU) funding for human embryonic stem (ES) cell research as a 'fudge'. Last week, European Ministers agreed the latest draft of Europe's 54.5 billion Euro (£38 billion) 2007-2013...
24 July 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
European Ministers have agreed to fund some human embryonic stem (ES) cell research, in a compromise that bans any work involving the destruction of embryos. However, this would not prevent European funding of 'subsequent steps', the Ministers agreed at a European Council meeting held today. UK...
19 June 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
The European parliament has voted to allow European Union (EU) funding for projects involving human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. In the latest stage of the approval for Europe's 2007-2013 research budget, the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), politicians backed the proposal by 284 votes to...
16 March 2006 - by BioNews 
Following discussions earlier this week, European Union (EU) research ministers have failed to find a majority opinion on how human embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research should be funded under the Seventh EU Research Framework Programme 2007-2013 (FP7). Because of the lack of agreement among member states, the EU will...
9 February 2005 - by BioNews 
The scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep has been given permission to use the same technique to clone human embryos for medical research into stem cells. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has granted a licence to the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh to use the cell nucleus replacement (CNR...
11 August 2004 - by BioNews 
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has given a Newcastle team permission to create human embryos that are clones of patients. The team, which applied for the licence in June, is licensed use the embryos to make embryonic stem cells for research purposes. They plan to investigate diabetes...
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