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Embryology

Volume 712: debated on Monday 6 July 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there is a scientific consensus regarding when cells in culture that are not intended for human application would no longer contain original cells, as indicated by paragraph 62 of the Human Tissue Authority Code of Practice 9 (Research); if so, whether stem cell lines might be viewed as containing original cells according to their pattern of asymmetric cell divisions; if not, what sort of variation might be expected if the classification of original cells were left to individual judgment. [HL4503]

There is no consensus about when cells in culture would no longer contain original cells. Cultured cells divide at different rates dependent on the cell type, local culture conditions, and in some cases the individual characteristics of the donor. As it is a matter for individual researchers to make a judgment, some variation in these decisions is to be expected, but the extent of any variation is unknown.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 15 June (WA 172–3), what are the technical issues around the derivation and biological properties of iPS cells that must be resolved before proceeding to clinical application; why the same issues would not impede corresponding applications with embryonic stem cells derived via cell nuclear replacement; and what implications such technical issues hold for research in which stem cells are used to test drug candidates rather than intended for transplantation. [HL4504]

There have been numerous approaches to generate induced pluripotent stem cell lines, but there is currently no scientific consensus on the most effective, reliable and safest method for subsequent application of these cells in patients. Other issues, such as the biochemical and genetic stability of any given type of pluripotent stem cell, also remain poorly understood at present and, unless resolved by researchers, could restrict the potential of any given type of stem cell in both drug testing and transplantation. The Government will continue to support all forms of stem cell research.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 29 September 2008 (WA 353–4) and 20 May 2009 (WA 317–18), why Dr Daniel Brison drew up a poster (co-authored by Dr Susan Kimber and Dr Maria Camarasa), which was presented to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's Scientific and Clinical Advances Group, showing the technique of outgrowing embryos used at Manchester on 14 June 2007 when the report of the inspection at St Mary's Hospital (also covering Manchester Fertility Services and the University of Manchester) on 26 September 2007 indicated that the derivation of stem cells from such embryos did not take place on those premises. [HL4522]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised that the derivation of stem cells from outgrown embryos was not taking place at St Mary's Hospital (also covering Manchester Fertility Services and the University of Manchester) at the time of the inspection on 26 September 2007. The pictures of such embryos, provided by Dr Daniel Brison, were from research carried out prior to 26 September 2007.