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Embryology

Volume 715: debated on Tuesday 1 December 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 9 November (WA 112), how a researcher could take reasonable steps to contact the person who originally provided cells to a tissue bank if there is no requirement on the part of any tissue bank to use contact information at their disposal for that purpose. [HL18]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that its Research Licence Committee considers on a case-by-case basis each application for a research licence for a project proposing to use human cells in the creation of embryos without explicit consent. In all cases, the committee would expect the applicant to demonstrate that it had taken all reasonable steps to contact the cell provider.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 28 October (WA 151), how people in Scotland are monitored regarding their ongoing consent for specific proposed activities; and what the remit is of the Human Tissue Authority in Scotland (aside from checking living organ donors). [HL19]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) applies across the United Kingdom. Consent for specific proposed activities in connection with embryo research licensed under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended), is monitored in Scotland in the same manner as elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

The Human Tissue Authority has no remit in connection with activities licensed under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended), in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 9 November (WA 111) and the ensuing letter from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) chief executive on 9 November, which were the research licences for which an HFEA research inspection report indicated that 23 embryos were obtained for research after two separate women produced 44 eggs and 29 eggs respectively; and whether that was unconventional; and, if not, at what frequency similar numbers of embryos were obtained for research from individuals following superovulation at each respective licensed centre. [HL20]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the research licence referred to is licence R0145 at Newcastle Centre for Life. The number of eggs obtained from individuals following stimulation can vary significantly. Judgments about the appropriate number of eggs to obtain are clinical in nature and the HFEA takes the view that centres should follow guidance from the professional bodies when making these judgments.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 12 November (WA 207–8), why Medical Research Council (MRC) funding was not awarded to undertake research involving admixed embryos in accordance with the remarks by Lord Darzi of Denham on 29 October 2008 (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 1615); why MRC funding was instead provided for somatic cell nuclear transfer where “scarce human eggs would be used over animal eggs”; and whether the MRC agrees with Professor Shaw's testimony regarding use of animal eggs that there “is no biological reason why it should not work” (HC 272–II, Session 2008–09, Q49). [HL21]

The Medical Research Council (MRC) approach to funding research on stem cells follows from the council's objective of improving human health through excellent science and is committed to supporting research across a range of approaches to harness the potential of stem cells to treat human disease. It is not evident at present which area of stem cell research may deliver the most effective treatments for particular conditions and more research is needed on all types of stem cells to determine which routes should be pursued in the development of cell-based therapies.

The MRC considers excellence as the primary consideration in taking decisions on which proposals to fund and all research proposals submitted to the MRC are subject to stringent scientific peer review. The process is rigorous and highly competitive and only proposals which are of an internationally competitive standard can be funded. This is the basis on which MRC takes individual funding decisions, including those using different stem cell types derived from human or animal tissue.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 12 November (WA 207–8), how the Medical Research Council (MRC) will “sustain the careers of the future research leaders”, as described in its strategic plan for 2009–14, when it has declined funding for an investigator whose example had been highlighted by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health; and how the departure of a prominent scientist from academia would continue the “tradition of supporting the United Kingdom's most talented individuals at critical stages of their research careers”. [HL22]

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is committed to supporting the UK's most talented individuals at critical stages of their research careers and to seek novel ways of enabling career research scientists to flourish. The MRC considers excellence as the primary consideration in taking decisions on which proposals to fund and all research proposals submitted to the MRC are subject to stringent scientific peer review.

The MRC works closely with stakeholders in industry and academia to exchange knowledge and forge successful partnerships and to maintain a cadre of highly skilled researchers within the UK which is essential for the innovative research in both the commercial and academic sector that increases our understanding of health, disease and treatment.