Stem Cell - Archive

May 2006: Stem Cell & Cloning Research

Hwang's Embryonic Stem Cell Research Used More Human Eggs Than Claimed

ESCR Backers Spend Milliions

NJ Gov to Push Lawmakers on ESCR Bill

WI Lawmaker Wants ESCR Separate at UW from other research

American Scientists Announce Intent to Clone Humans for Research

China bans sale of human eggs, tightens control over sperm banks to boost control over the nation's rapidly expanding fertility business

HWANG'S EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH USED MORE HUMAN EGGS THAN CLAIMED. While news that the South Korean government had indicted embryonic stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk and his colleagues on charges of fraud and embezzlement, the government's report also revealed Hwang's team used 5 times more human eggs in their research than they claimed. 

The news is disturbing to bioethics observers because people on both sides of the stem cell research debate are concerned that egg donations take advantage of women, especially, the poor, and can lead to coercion.

Government prosecutors found Hwang's team used 2,236 ova taken from 136 women between November 2002 and December 2005. The donations came from four medical institutions: Hanyang University Medical Center, fertility clinic MizMedi Hospital, Jeil General Hospital and Hanna Women's Clinic. The number is far more than the 427 eggs Hwang's team claims to have used. [Korean Times; 16May06, LifeNews.com]

ESCR BACKERS SPEND MILLIONS. Meanwhile, backers of an initiative that will likely appear on the November ballot to promote embryonic stem cell research and human cloning are spending heavily on their campaign to get it approved. New campaign finance reports reveal the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures raised more than $2.5 million in the last three months to promote the initiative and spend $2.2 million to persuade voters to back it. In total, the group has raised almost $7 million and spent more than $6 million since beginning its campaign to promote the destructive research and human cloning. According to a St. Louis Post Dispatch report, the group still has $650,000 in the bank. The bulk of its money is coming from large donors who have a financial interest in the initiative succeeding. James and Virginia Stowers, of Kansas City, the namesake of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, which backs the proposal, donated more than $1.5 million of the $2.5 million raised in the last three months. In total, the Stowers family has donated $3.37 million — nearly half of all of the funds the group has raised for their campaign.  [LifeNews.com, 19Apr06]
 
NJ GOV TO PUSH LAWMAKERS ON ESCR BILL. Frustrated that the state legislature hasn't acted faster in getting a stem cell research bill approved, Corzine called it "unconscionable". He indicated the state would fall behind states like MD and CA if the measure wasn't approved soon. [Star-Ledger, LifeNews.com, 19Apr06]
 
WI LAWMAKER WANTS ESCR SEPARATE AT UW FROM OTHER RESEARCH.  WI Sen Fitzgerald wants the scientists and their projects housed in a different building to make sure taxpayer funds which pay for other research aren't going to embryo-destructive studies. At issue is the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery proposed at the UW campus, which will be funded by $50 million in private donations. [ LifeNews.com, 19Apr06]

AMERICAN SCIENTISTS ANNOUNCE INTENT TO CLONE HUMANS FOR RESEARCH. The Harvard & CA scientists' announcement came at a conference in Cambridge, Mass. held in early April according to a report from the Bloomberg news service. According to the report the scientists acknowledged Hwang's failure and even admitted to falling for the hoax. Kevin Eggan, a Harvard researcher said he visited Hwang's laboratory last year to learn his techniques for cloning. "I would have trusted him with my wallet," Eggan said of Hwang. "He projected this air of expertise and trustworthiness that exists with few people."

Human cloning for the purpose of extracting embryonic stem cells is one of the most ethically controversial aspects of the entire field of stem cell research not only because it requires the killing of human life but also for the concerns it raises that women will exploited for their eggs.

The scientists acknowledged that obtaining egg donations remains a practical and ethical challenge to their work. Massachusetts law forbids payment for human eggs for cloning purposes and the process for donating eggs is long, arduous and painful.

The research being conducted at Harvard is done by scientists at a secret location in a basement laboratory because the school fears protesters, yet the scientists appear unable to understand why destroying human embryos for scientific research might be morally questionable. "There's nothing about the research I do that should be done behind closed doors," a Harvard scientist said. "It's perfectly ethical and has an honorable goal." Research using embryonic stem cells has been widely hailed in the media as a likely source of cures for numerous diseases including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Despite these claims embryonic stem cells have contributed no cures to any human diseases. In eight years of attempts at human cloning there have been no successes despite three false claims to the contrary. Pro-life advocates have long celebrated the successes of adult stem cells which have successfully treated more than 60 diseases. [By Mark Adams, 19Apr06, culture-of-life.org via LifeSiteNew.com]

CHINA BANS SALE OF HUMAN EGGS, TIGHTENS CONTROL OVER SPERM BANKS TO BOOST CONTROL OVER THE NATION'S RAPIDLY EXPANDING FERTILITY BUSINESS. In a circular the ministry restricted the use of one donor's sperm to impregnate a maximum of five women and banned the supply of sperm to unauthorized institutions, it said. As of March 31, 64 institutions were authorized to offer fertility treatment for childless couples, while seven institutions had established sperm banks, Xinhua said. Scientific research shows that overall sperm density among Chinese males has dropped by about 40 percent over the past half century, state media said recently. [9Apr06, http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060409/hl_afp/healthchinaferti

litysperm_060409065006;  N Valko RN, 19Apr06]