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Embryology

Volume 712: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the answer by Lord Drayson on 22 June (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 1342), how he will look further into the level of collection of blood cord in the United Kingdom; and what are the percentages of blood cord extracted from the umbilical cord and collected for research, cryopreservation or clinical treatment in the United Kingdom compared with each of the other European Union member states. [HL4527]

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my noble friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health on 7 July 2009 (Official Report, col. WA 125).

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the commercial value of patents on the use of embryonic stem cells; to what extent opportunities for commercial use, rather than therapeutic potential, have influenced public policy; and whether the lack of patents and commercial use of adult stem cells has affected their ability to attract funding. [HL4558]

The Intellectual Property Office does not make assessments of the commercial value of an invention in its patent granting procedures, nor does it attempt to predict the commercial value of potential inventions when advising on policy proposals. UK law and practice on the patentability of inventions in relation to stem cells is based on the European directive 98/44/EC on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions which was implemented into UK patent law in 2000, and takes account of subsequent developments in case law.

The primary considerations of public sector bodies in determining whether particular proposals should receive funding in medical sciences are research excellence and importance to health. Where research can be categorised this has allowed adult stem cells to secure £24.7 million of funding versus £14.7 million for embryonic stem cell research in 2007-08, a ratio of greater than 60:40 (adult to embryonic). The UK National Stem Cell Network has recently reported patenting activity associated with both adult and embryonic stem cells.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 29 June (WA 10–11), whether funding for induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells is recorded under adult stem cell funding alone, under embryonic stem cell funding alone, under funding for research with both adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells, or in a different category; and whether funding for umbilical cord blood stem cells is categorised under adult stem cell funding. [HL4834]

The majority of government support for stem cell research is provided through the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The MRC reports projects involving research for induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and umbilical cord blood cells primarily under the category of adult stem cell research. Around 10 per cent of the MRC's spending on research involving stem cells (based on spend for 2007-08) includes research projects involving a range of approaches and techniques including both adult and embryonic stem cells. Spend on such projects is reported evenly across both of the categories.

BBSRC funding for iPS cells was recorded under either adult stem cell funding alone, or funding for research with both adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells, as appropriate. No iPS cell research was recorded under embryonic stem cell funding alone or any other category. BBSRC did not report any funding on umbilical cord blood stem cells.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 7 July (WA 125–6), what are the respective levels of cord blood stored for clinical use in the United Kingdom and those countries studied in the report Cord Blood Banking in the UK—an international comparison of policy and practice. [HL4982]

The figures on the respective levels of cord blood stored for clinical use can be found in the report entitled Cord Blood Banking in the UKAn International Comparison of Policy and Practice, a copy of which has been placed in the Library.