Submission from the Royal College of Obstetricians
1. The Royal College of Obstetricians and
Gynaecologists is concerned at the suggestions of outlawing the
transfer of human nuclei into animal eggs even as part of scientifically
approved research projects.
2. There is considerable disquiet about
women acting as donors for stem cell research (Editorials, Nature).
1-3 There is additional concern where nuclear transfer is intended
as part of "therapeutic cloning" studies, as these procedures
are in the early stages of development and many failures would
3. Nuclear transfer technology could produce
significant advances in the understanding of the cellular mechanisms
of differentiation and de-differentiation, which are relevant
to our understanding of neoplasia and early human development.
It will also allow study of important inherited clinical disorders
in vitro reducing the need for animal models. Whilst stem
cell lines containing specific genetic abnormalities such as cystic
fibrosis and Huntington disease have been generated from embryos
surplus to PGD procedures, 4, 5 certain serious disorders such
as motor neurone disease and Parkinson's disease are not amenable
to PGD, hence an alternative source of stem cell generation for
study is required. Nuclear transfer using somatic cell nuclei
from affected patients inserted into appropriate oocytes would
allow generation of stem cell lines containing the relevant mutation
for the study in vitro of these disorders.
4. As a college concerned with the health
of women, it would seem both prudent and fair that preliminary
experiments are conducted first on easily obtained animal oocytes
(such as from cow ovaries from the meat industry), avoiding women
having to undergo the discomfort and risk of ovarian stimulation
and vaginal egg retrieval for research purposes until there is
a significant prospect of success with nuclear transfer.
REFERENCES 1 Safeguards
for donors, Nature (2006) 442, (7103), 601.
2 Ethicists and biologists ponder the price
of eggs, Nature (2006) 442, 606.
3 Health effects of egg donation may take
decades to emerge. Nature (2006) 442, 607.
4 Pickering S J, Minger S L, Patel M, Taylor
H, Black C, Burns C J, et al. Generation of a human embryonic
stem cell line encoding the cystic fibrosis mutation deltaF508,
using preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Reprod Biomed Online
5 Mateizel I, De Temmerman N, Ullmann U,
Cauffman G, Sermon K, Van de Velde H, et al. Derivation
of human embryonic stem cell lines from embryos obtained after
IVF and after PGD for monogenic disorders. Hum Reprod 2006;