Diane Beeson and Abby Lippman, based at California State University and McGill University, Montreal respectively, report on medical risks and ethical problems associated with collection of human oocytes (eggs) during IVF practice from donors who give them to other women who desperately want a child. Doubts are emerging about donating oocytes in this manner, even when recipients use them to establish a pregnancy. Their article Egg harvesting for stem cell research: medical risks and ethical problems is published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online [www.rbmonline.com/Article/2503 – e-pub ahead of print 14 August 2006].
Widely practised in IVF, but not yet proven to be fully safe, various hormones are given to donors to stimulate several eggs to develop. Using ultrasound, ripe oocytes are then aspirated from within their follicles. The oocytes are often donated free, although the HFEA has given permission for donors to receive some compensation via discounts for their own IVF treatment. In one case reported, the donor oocytes were needed for stem cell research, which makes ethicists even more furious about ‘selling’ human oocytes.
It is hard to separate ethically this decision from giving direct payments to donors, or from fertilizing the eggs and then giving them away for research. In all these examples, many donors might have suffered from mild symptoms of ovarian hyperstimulation, among other disorders, without their knowledge.
Recent research has stressed the risks of using hormonal stimulants to induce follicle growth and ovulation in women. Surprisingly, Beeson and Lippman claim that pharmaceutical companies have not been compelled to submit their information on the risks of such forms of ovulation induction to the US Food and Drug Administration. Claims are made of 25 deaths among donors, although this requires verification. Claims that cancers may be induced in some patients have been questioned or denied, although an increase arose in another study on >3500 women donors, and critics stress that many of these studies had short-term follow-ups in only a few women. These patients were among the first to attempt IVF, and their risks of tumours are now emerging and will be analysed in the near future.
IVF children have not yet displayed such anomalies, though significant abnormalities are reported in offspring of mice following similar treatments. These investigating authors nevertheless cited earlier reports on anomalies, including cancers, in offspring of women receiving exogenous hormones, perhaps due to the release of steroids. In view of all these known and unknown risks to women donors, these authors refer to organizations established to protect women undergoing IVF and other ovarian treatments. It is one thing, however, to raise a fuss about uncertain risks but quite another to gain hard data from the complex reports emerging in the world of assisted human conception.
Fiona Bennett | alfa
New malaria analysis method reveals disease severity in minutes
14.08.2017 | University of British Columbia
New type of blood cells work as indicators of autoimmunity
14.08.2017 | Instituto de Medicina Molecular
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy