Hybrid embryo research is legal, regulator says


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Sarah Bridge and agencies
Thursday January 11, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

The possibility of British scientists creating human-animal embryos for medical research moved a step closer today.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the regulator for embryo research, decided that using the hybrid embryos for research into diseases such as motor neurone, Alzheimer's and diabetes is legal under current legislation.
However, it has delayed a decision on whether to permit such research to go ahead until after public consultation on the issue.
Two groups of scientists had applied to the HFEA for licences to carry out research using embryos created from human cells and animal eggs.
Dr Lyle Armstrong, whose Newcastle University team is one of those seeking a licence, said today's news was "a lot better than it could have been".
"It's not an outright ban, and we welcome the possibility of a public consultation," he added.
"It is going to be an opportunity for us to put our side of the story. It's important for us to explain how this work will allow us to produce research which could potentially cure all sorts of diseases."
Professor Ian Wilmut, the director of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and the leader of the team that cloned Dolly the Sheep, said that his team would be applying for a licence.
"I welcome the fact that the HFEA have decided to investigate the scientific merits of the use of animal eggs in research to understand human diseases," he said.
Hybrid embryos are made by transferring human DNA, such as skin cells, into eggs from animals such as cows or rabbits, and the resulting embryos are more than 99% human. Scientists hope the process will avoid the ethical dilemmas of tampering with a human life.
The HFEA met yesterday to discuss whether it had the remit to licence and regulate the proposed research, deciding that it did have the authority to do so.
However, it said that there needed to be a "full and proper public debate" on the issue before any such licences were issued.
"After weighing up the scientific, legal and ethical issues presented to Wednesday's meeting, the authority decided that there needs to be a full and proper public debate and consultation as to whether, in principle, licences for these sorts of research could be granted," an HFEA statement said.
"From the evidence considered so far, this issue is far from black and white. There is not clear agreement within the scientific community about the need for and benefits of this science.
"The authority felt that it is important that we go through the issues and the science thoroughly and test the claims about the benefits of this research." A government white paper, published last month following public consultation, proposed banning the creation of hybrid embryos altogether.
However, the Liberal Democrat science spokesman, Evan Harris, who is leading a campaign in support of human-animal embryo research, said it was unlikely parliament would support a ban following the HFEA decision.
"The government should take a hint from its independent advisory and regulatory body - its policy in this area is wrong and must be changed," he added.
The HFEA's own consultation is not due to be completed until the autumn.
Dr Mark Walport, the director of the Wellcome Trust, Britain's largest scientific research charity, said he hoped there would be no further delay, adding that there was "important research at stake here".
Church of England spokesman Steve Jenkins welcomed the prospect of a public consultation on the issue and said it should be fully debated in parliament.
Josephine Quintavalle, the founder of ethical lobby group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, voiced concern about the HFEA's decision. "Creation of life for research purposes in this way is absolutely reprehensible. It is based on flawed science," she said.

advisory- doradczy
altogether- całkiem, całkowicie
apply (for)- zwracać się o
ban- zakaz
benefit- korzyść
carry out- przeprowadzać
claim- żądanie, skarga
concern- troska, obawa
current- obecny, aktualny
delay- odkładać, odraczać, przekładać
diabetes- cukrzyca
embryo- embrion
grant- udzielać
hint- wskazówka, podpowiedź
in principle- w zasadzie
investigate- badać, dochodzić
issue- wydawać
legislation- ustawodawstwo
merits- meritum, wartość merytoryczna
motor neurone disease- choroba neuronu ruchowego
outright- całkowity, zupełny
remit- kompetencje
reprehensible- karygodny, naganny
tamper with- wtrącać się
voice- wyrażać, wypowiadać
weigh up- rozważać, szacować
white paper- dokument rządowy


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