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Embryology

Volume 704: debated on Wednesday 29 October 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 7 January (WA 151) and 16 October (WA 67-8), how many eggs have been received and used to date under research licence R0152 since the project began in 2004; and what assessment has been made by those licence committees monitoring the efficiency of the process used if no embryonic stem cell lines have so far been derived. [HL5737]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has informed me that it does not routinely collect data for its register on the number of eggs used in embryo research projects.

The authority has also advised me that research licence R0152 was renewed on 18 June 2008. At that time, the HFEA's executive informed the licence committee that progress with the project had been hampered by the refurbishment of the laboratories and by the availability of good-quality eggs. The centre has recently received funding from the Medical Research Council that will enable it to develop its egg sharing for research programme and it is hoped that this will enable the research to progress at a faster pace.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 16 October (WA 67–8) regarding the inspection report for research licence R0152 dated 18 June 2008, what assessment has been made of the superior compatibility with clinical application of stem cells derived by nuclear transfer, compared with induced pluripotent (iPS) cells as described in the journal Science (Volume 318, issue 5858, pages 1920–23) and in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (Volume 105, Issue 15, pages 5856–61) or iPS cells that are not derived by viral insertion as described in the journal Science (DOI:10.1126/science.1164270). [HL5738]

The scientific consensus is that it is too early to say what type of stem cell will be best for any particular clinical application. That is why the United Kingdom Government are and always have been supportive of the use of stem cells from all sources, including embryos, foetuses, adult tissue and umbilical cord.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 16 October (WA 67–8), what progress has been made in using stem cells derived by nuclear transfer to help patients with diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, spinal injuries and burns, and people who have heart attacks, as described by Professor Alison Murdoch in a BBC television interview.[HL5739]

Progress continues to be made in many areas of stem cell research, including therapeutic cloning. However, it is impossible to predict when and if patients may benefit from any type of research. That is why the United Kingdom Government are and always have been supportive of the use of stem cells from all sources, including embryos, foetuses, adult tissue and umbilical cord.