Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 10

Submission from the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Alzheimer's Society


  The Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Alzheimer's Society would like to express their concerns that the use of hybrid and chimera embryos may not be licensed following a consultation focusing on reproductive technologies rather than the research of such embryos.

  We consider that the use of such leading-edge techniques must be allowed to further develop potential treatments for neurological conditions. We hope that the government will not inhibit research into this complex but promising new arena in research.

  Stem cell research, including embryonic stem cell research, shows great promise for advances in the treatment of serious diseases. It holds the key to exciting possibilities for treating the damage caused in severely disabling conditions like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease and Alzheimer's disease. These diseases have a devastating impact on more than a million families throughout the UK—families to whom stem cell research could offer vital hope.

  Millions of pounds are invested in stem cell projects across the UK and it is vital that scientists are allowed to continue exploring the potential of stem cells as a basis for innovative new therapies. The chimera hold great potential as laboratory tools to explore early processes that lead to neurological conditions because they may be constructed to express the human genes that cause some of these diseases. We acknowledge that work must take place within a proper regulatory and ethical framework, but we are concerned that a decision may be taken to close down a route of investigation without full consideration of its impacts.

  For this reason, we are very pleased that a fuller discussion with the scientific community and patient groups likely to be affected is taking place. We sincerely hope that negative public perception and unease surrounding the subject will not prohibit the potential benefits that could accrue from further laboratory research in this area.

January 2007

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