On Bioethics

catholic moral standing on the special ethics of life

Archive for EMBRYO

HWANG TRYING TO RESTORE HIS REPUTATION

Working days, nights and weekends, with criminal charges hanging over his head, disgraced stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk is trying to climb the steep hill to rehabilitation. Assisted by a team of 30 in a private lab south of Seoul, he is working on cloning animal embryos. A colleague told AP that he dreams of working with cloned human embryos again. “There are many good research results that we want to boast about,” she says.However, editors of leading journals are cautious. “Any submission form Dr Hwang would take into consideration the irreparable harm that his previous misconduct has inflicted on the scientific enterprise,” says Monica Bradford, executive editor of Science, one of the journals duped by the Korean. And Curt Civin, editor of Stem Cells, who was also a victim of his fraud, says that he would worry about recidivism.

Somewhat surprisingly, Harvard researcher George Daley told an international meeting of stem cell scientists in Australia recently that Hwang’s research was genuinely original. He had been the first to create stem cell lines from a parthenote, an activated, unfertilised egg. ~ AP, Jun 21; Nature Reports Stem Cells blog, Jun 18   

IVF BEGINS IN UGANDA

 

Glowing newspaper profiles of IVF doctors who bring bundles of joy to desperate couples are common enough in the US, the UK and Australia. But it is seldom that they emphasise how often the doctor consults the Bible for guidance. Recently, the Kampala Monitor profiled Dr Edward Tamale Ssali, who practices in Bukoto, in southern Uganda. He is responsible for the first birth of a frozen embryo baby and the first birth to a surrogate mother in East and Central Africa. A devout Christian, he rises every day at 5am and reads his Bible. He also hosts a TV program, Faith and Science, on Sundays. “I would be earning a lot overseas but I decided to station here,” he told the Monitor. “There is more to life than money. The Bible says that the life of a man doesn’t consist in the things that he owns.” ~ Monitor, Jun 3   

BRITISH PRESSURE TO ALLOW EMBRYO HYBRIDS

Pressure is growing on the British government to permit the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for stem cell research. After a recent public consultation, it appears that the government is preparing to ban it, but there have been noisy protests from scientists and MPs. The Association of Medical Charities has sent a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair signed by 223 medical foundations and patient groups.

Whatever the public might feel, suggests the letter, the views of scientists should prevail: “They highlight the need for this work because of the shortage of human eggs for medical research and because they see it as a vital avenue of inquiry which could greatly increase our understanding of serious medical conditions and ultimately lead to new treatments.”  

Within Parliament, members of a science and technology select committee are giving hybrid embryos vigorous support. “Ministers have never provided a rational basis for their ban and their only supporters are pro-life groups and anti-science campaigners who oppose all embryo research,” says MP Evan Harris.

However, Josephine Quintavalle, director of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: “Despite the enthusiasm of this small committee, worldwide there is more opposition than support for the creation of such entities, and within the United Kingdom as well. The public should now demand an extensive and objective consultation at the highest democratic level, and by this we mean Parliament itself.” ~ BBC, Apr 5; AMC website