Thursday, October 06, 2011

Stem Cell Cloning, Buying Women's Eggs

Scientists in New York crossed ethical boundaries in research in which abnormal human clones were created, using eggs purchased from desperate women in need of money, in order to destroy the living matter to harvest embryonic stem cells.

-- From "Stem cell research used cloning technique, paid women for eggs" by Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times 10/6/11

. . . The [research] team paid the women who provided the eggs used in the study, a practice that has been forbidden by ethical guidelines from scientific organizations around the world. Some ethicists have argued that paying women for their eggs might create an exploitative trade. But in this case, it may be the reason why the researchers were able to collect enough healthy eggs (they used 270 in all) to get their historic result.

Teams have "tried to recruit donors on altruistic grounds and failed," said New York Stem Cell Foundation researcher and study co-leader Dieter Egli, during a press conference on Tuesday. "That's why we knew it was not the way to go in New York."

To avoid exerting undue influence on the donors, the New York team paid them $8,000 for the time and burden of donation (which does pose risks), then allowed them to decide later if they wanted their eggs to be used for research or for reproduction. That way, the conversation about payment was already over before any talk about scientific research began.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Scientists report possibly crucial advance in human embryonic stem cell research" by Rob Stein, Washington Post 10/5/11

Scientists reported Wednesday that for the first time they had used cloning techniques to generate embryonic stem cells containing the genes of specific patients.

The experiments, which produced genetically abnormal cells useful only for research, have raised new concerns in a field rife with ethical, moral and political quandaries.

For the first time, scientists paid women for their eggs to use for human embryonic stem cell research, stirring worries about women being exploited and putting their health at risk. And they made the stem cells by producing and then destroying mutant embryos. Because of their genetic abnormalities, those embryos could not have survived. Their moral status immediately became the subject of debate.

“They have created human embryos. They are abnormal, but they are still human embryos,” said Daniel P. Sulmasy, a professor of medicine and ethics at the University of Chicago. “Anyone who is opposed to the deliberate creation and destruction of human embryos, as I am, would be opposed to this research.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Cloning Research Gives Way To Bioethics Questions" transcript from NPR "All Things Considered" 10/5/11

GUY RAZ, host: Now that scientists have used cloning techniques to create a human embryo, there's sure to be debate about the ethics of all this. Insoo Hyun is an associate professor of Bioethics at Case Western Reserve University, and he joins me now. Welcome to the program.

. . .
HYUN: Well, some people may think that we are now down a slippery slope toward getting cloned babies. And that's certainly a major concern for policymakers and the public.

RAZ: So explain the thinking behind the restrictions on paying women to donate eggs for this kind of research.

HYUN: The main concern is that when you put money on the table, women would not give a fully voluntary choice to participate. So the idea is that paying women for the time and inconvenience may be exploitative of women who are in desperate need of money. That's the main concern, that it undermines people's voluntary choice.

To read the entire transcript above, CLICK HERE.