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'Fresh' eggs wanted for cloning

28 July 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 319

Professor Ian Wilmut, the pioneering creator of Dolly the sheep, is seeking permission from the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to ask women to donate eggs for cloning experiments in his work on motor neurone disease.

Professor Wilmut, who was granted a cloning licence by the HFEA in February, told the Guardian newspaper: 'I have never doubted that women would donate if they thought they were helping people to have treatment. Our hope and belief is that women who have seen the devastating effects of this disease will be prepared to make such a donation'.

Until now, cloning experts in Britain have only used spare eggs left over from fertility treatment for their experiments, but many scientists believe that their work is hampered by the low quality of these eggs. Others, however, believe that asking women to donate eggs purely for research may lead to a financial incentive that is morally objectionable. Critics claim that Professor Wilmut's plan turns women and their eggs into commodities. They also warn that any woman considering donating eggs must be fully informed of the health risks before undergoing the long and sometimes painful procedure.

The benefits of collecting fresh eggs were demonstrated by Professor Woo Suk Hwang's world-leading team in South Korea. It became the first in the world to create a cloned human embryo after gathering eggs from women who donated their eggs specifically for research in 2004. Another team, led by Professor Alison Murdoch at Newcastle University in the UK, created the first cloned human embryo in Europe in May using spare eggs, and found that the quality of the eggs was the key to success.

Professor Wilmut's proposal has angered some religious groups. Donald Bruce, who heads the Church of Scotland's Society, Religion and Technology project, said: 'There are already eggs which are available. That a researcher now wants a certain type of egg is starting to turn the egg and the woman into commodities'. He added: 'I'm very nervous about this. Altruistic donation has a strong tradition in medicine, but any inducement to donate, whether it is moral or financial, is something we should be wary of'.

The HFEA said it has not yet received any formal application from Professor Wilmut, but stressed that any such proposal would be considered extremely carefully both by an independent ethics committee and the HFEA's own licensing group.

Cloning plan poses new ethical dilemma
The Guardian |  26 July 2005
Watchdog warning over research eggs
The Daily Mail |  26 July 2005
31 July 2006 - by Heidi Nicholl 
A controversial scheme to extend the practise of 'egg sharing' has been approved by the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to provide greater numbers of eggs for embryonic stem (ES) cell research. The practise of egg-sharing is currently allowed where a woman may receive discounted...
15 May 2006 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
At its open meeting held on 10 May in Belfast, the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) announced that it will 'prepare a proper consultation programme' on oocyte (egg) donation so that it could assess the whole range of views and ethical issues that the...
17 February 2006 - by BioNews 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology and Authority (HFEA), which regulates fertility treatment and embryo research in the UK, is considering allowing altruistic egg donation for therapeutic cloning research. According to a report in the Times newspaper, the authority may soon approve new rules that will allow women to donate eggs...
13 January 2006 - by BioNews 
UK researchers are seeking permission to use rabbit eggs to create human stem cells for studying motor neurone disease. Professor Chris Shaw, of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, and Professor Ian Wilmut, who led the Edinburgh University team that created Dolly the sheep, are discussing their planned experiments with...
6 January 2006 - by BioNews 
Professor Ian Wilmut, the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, has said that terminally ill patients could be used to test stem cell therapies. Wilmut, who was appointed last month as the first director of the new Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Edinburgh University, Scotland, claimed that using human volunteers...
22 May 2005 - by BioNews 
Scientists based in Newcastle, UK, have created cloned human embryos, one of which grew in the laboratory for five days. The team is one of only two UK groups licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to carry out 'therapeutic cloning' research. The achievement, currently being considered for...
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...
10 May 2004 - by BioNews 
The South Korean scientists who successfully extracted stem cells from cloned human embryos are now facing questions over the origin of the 247 donated eggs used in their experiments. The Seoul National University team, which published its breakthrough in the journal Science earlier this year, created 30 cloned human embryos...
12 February 2004 - by BioNews 
Scientists in South Korea have extracted and grown stem cells from cloned, early human embryos, a breakthrough in 'therapeutic cloning' research. Using a modified version of the technique used to clone Dolly the sheep, the team, based at the Seoul National University, created 30 cloned human embryos. The researchers extracted...
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