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Saturday 22nd October 2016

'Cell bank' plan criticised

16th October 2007

UK scientists have reacted angrily to a proposal by an American firm to store stem cells from leftover IVF embryos.


Lord Robert Winston said no evidence existed which suggested this might be a "useful procedure" and stated he "would be horrified if anyone tried to do this in Britain."

The proposal was put forward at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference. The proposition is based around the idea that the cells stored from frozen embryos might offer its siblings treatment options if they suffered illness in the future.

StemLifeLine, a company located in California, said that embryos could be "transformed" in a way which could help develop treatments and their service was an "investment for the future."

Lord Winston declared that the idea was "a clear example of exploitation of the worries of couples about the fate of their children."

Stem cells enable the body to generate different tissues and scientists have suggested they could have the potential to be used to treat diseases. Embryos are a source of stem cells and in IVF treatment there are often "spare" embryos which are usually frozen or discarded.

So far, scientists have never used embryo stem cells to effectively fight or cure disease.

Expert Professor Stephen Minger, from King's College London, said he was worried that it was a "commercial service...being promoted to companies when the science is really not there to justify it."

A spokesman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said it was not likely that a comparable project in the UK would receive its endorsement.

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