Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

In Canada: Fresh Embryos As Source Of Stem Cells

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
On Tuesday, September 13, concern was expressed in the National Post (Canada) over the use of "fresh" embryos as a source of stem cells. An article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal warned that women are being encouraged to donate fresh embryos as opposed to "surplus" frozen embryos left over from previous in-vitro fertilization treatments, to create stem cells. The authors of the article, Dr. Jeffrey Nisker, of the University of Western Ontario, and Dr. Francoise Baylis, of Dalhousie University in Halifax, also warned that these women might be decreasing their chances of getting pregnant in the future. As well, Baylis complained about the "surreptitious" way the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, a federal agency, quietly changed the rules on June 7 to explicitly allow stem-cell researchers to use fresh human embryos. Only two days later, a Toronto research team headed by Dr. Andras Nagy, announced it was not only working with fresh embryos but had already used them to create Canada's first human embryonic stem cells. Jeffrey Nisker co-chaired Health Canada's advisory committee on reproductive and genetic technology, which disbanded last year when the federal government passed the new law governing reproductive technology. He told the National Post: "Never for one moment did [the committee] imagine that a woman would ever be approached to give up a fresh embryo." Nisker said the issue demands clarification and added that he thinks physicians who ask women to donate fresh embryos might be breaking the medical code of ethics.
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