Wanted: Women´s Eggs for Research

Eventually May Lead to Human «Spare Parts» Kit, Paper Says

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LONDON, DEC. 17, 2000 (ZENIT.org).-
Women will be asked to donate their eggs for «humanitarian» medical research when Parliament gives the go-ahead for experiments on embryos this week, The Guardian newspaper reported today.

Officials foresee a surge of women volunteering to help those with incurable diseases, by providing the raw material to grow cells which may hold the key to cures, the paper said.

The embryos created would initially be used for research. But eventually they could provide a human «spare parts» kit, supplying stem cells, which are the building blocks for all specialized body cells, the paper said. These could, theoretically, be grown into skin tissue for grafts, brain cells to replace those damaged by Alzheimer´s or even organs for transplant. It could also provide treatments for Parkinson´s disease, heart disease and leukemia, The Guardian said.

An alternative to a mass egg donation program would be to grow eggs from follicles from the ovaries of aborted fetuses. However, it is expected that so many women will come forward this would not be necessary, the newspaper said.

Members of Parliament are expected to give the go-ahead to stem cell research in a vote in the Commons on Tuesday, despite impassioned objections from the Catholic Church and pro-life groups. Under present law, research on embryos is only allowed for developing fertility treatments. But Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer, wants a partial lifting of the ban to enable research on serious diseases. Cloning to reproduce humans would remain banned.

However, Donaldson conceded that research could lead to pressure to allow cloning of human embryos for use in treatments. Pro-life groups expect to lose the Commons vote and are now pinning their hopes on either the House of Lords, or taking the government to judicial review, The Guardian said.

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