These findings suggest that the number of embryos potentially available for stem cell research may be 10 times higher than previous estimates, resulting in a potential 100-fold increase in the number of stem cell lines -- groups of stem cells derived from a single source -- available for federally funded research.
Moreover, current federal policies do not reflect the preferences of infertility patients who have faced the very personal moral challenge of deciding what to do with their frozen embryos, according to the study.
“This has significant implications for potential policy change on stem cell research,” said Anne Drapkin Lyerly, M.D., an obstetrician/ gynecologist and bioethicist at Duke and lead investigator on the study. “Previous research indicates that there are approximately 400,000 frozen embryos stored in the United States; if half of those belong to people who are willing to donate embryos for research, and only half that number were in fact donated, there could still be 100,000 embryos available for research.” Earlier estimates placed the number of available embryos at about 11, 000, she said.
The researchers sent questionnaires to 2, 210 patients at nine infertility centers across the United States, asking them about their intentions for the frozen embryos they currently had stored. The study was funded by the Greenwall Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
While 49 percent of those who responded indicated that they were likely to donate some or all of their excess embryos to research in general, the number increased to about 60 percent when the questions were more specific, asking about stem cell research in particular, and about research aimed at developing treatments for human disease or for infertility, Lyerly said.
Among those surveyed, research proved to be the most desirable option for disposition of excess embryos, according to the study; other options, including donation to another infertile couple or destruction of the embryos, were far less desirable. Infertility patients proved more likely to support donating unused embryos to research than giving them to another couple or simply destroying them, possibly because they feel a responsibility to the embryos which actually precludes allowing them to develop into children to be reared by other people, or to be destroyed without benefit, Lyerly said. People undergoing fertility treatment may end up with anywhere from one to more than 20 unused embryos at the end of the process.
Stem cells have the ability to become any type of cell present in the human body, so it may be possible to use them in the future to treat many types of diseases, from autoimmune disorders to cancer, by generating healthy cells to replace damaged ones. Embryonic stem cells are more versatile than their counterparts derived from adults or from umbilical cord blood.
Currently, federal funding for embryonic stem cell research is limited to research on stem cell lines derived from embryos before August 2001, and may not be used for any research in which an embryo is destroyed. Funding from private or state funding sources is growing, but is still insufficient, Lyerly said. President Bush has vowed to veto recent federal legislation that would loosen current limitations on stem cell research.
“For these people, research may prove to be the most acceptable and morally preferable option,” she said.
Lauren Shaftel | EurekAlert!
Bolstering fat cells offers potential new leukemia treatment
17.10.2017 | McMaster University
Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes
17.10.2017 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences