World Congress

for freedom of scientific research

Research with embryos

Research with embryos and pre-embryos as well as therapeutic cloning concerns scientists' freedom to investigate human biology as well as patients' freedom to access regenerative medicine treatments that may be developed as a result of research with human embryonic stem cells. Since the early 2000s, research with embryos has been at the center of an often-polarized debate about the nature and scope of scientific freedom.

Research with embryo

Approach:

To measure the freedom of research with pre-embryos and embryos, we identified key restrictions concerning the legality of research and on the sources from which embryonic stem cells from can be lawfully be derived. These sources are supernumerary IVF embryos (also known as “orphan” embryos, that is, embryos originally created in vitro to be then transferred in an infertile woman’s womb and no longer destined not to be transferred), imported cell lines, and embryos created at hoc for research by using somatic cell nuclear transfer involving either human or non-human animal tissue.

Measurement questions:
  1. Is the use of human pre-embryos for experimental purposes an acceptable procedure? If not, can imported stem cells be used?
  2. Is derivation of new hESC lines from supernumerary IVF embryos lawful?
  3. Is derivation of new hESC lines from somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) lawful?
  4. Is derivation of new hESC from somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) using non-human animal eggs lawful?
Data sources:

Data were collected from the following sources:

  1. Elstner, A., et al. (2009). "The changing landscape of European and international regulation on embryonic stem cell research." Stem Cell Res 2(2): 101-107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scr.2008.10.003
  2. Australia. "Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction
  3. Canada. "Assisted Human Reproduction Act." 2004. 
  4. European Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry. "The Status of Hesc Research Legislation Throughout Europe." 
  5. Isasi, R. M., and B. M. Knoppers. "Mind the Gap: Policy Approaches to Embryonic Stem Cell and Cloning Research in 50 Countries." Europena Journal of Health Law 13, no. 1 (2006): 9-25.
  6. Jones, Howard W., and Jean Cohen. "Chapter 4: Marital Status." Fertility and sterility 87, no. 4 (2007): S17-S18.
  7. Rugg-Gunn, Peter J., Ubaka Ogbogu, Janet Rossant, and Timothy Caulfield. "The Challenge of Regulating Rapidly Changing Science: Stem Cell Legislation in Canada." Cell Stem Cell 4, no. 4 (2009): 285-88.
  8. The Hixton Group. "World Stem Cells Policies." 
  9. UNESCO International Bioethics Committee. "Report of the Working Group of IBC on Human Cloning and International Governance ", 1-20. Paris: UNESCO, 2008.
n. Total (out of 20)sort ascending Percentage
1 United Kingdom 20 100
2 Finland 16 100
3 Singapore 16 100
4 Spain 16 100
5 Belgium 15 100
6 Japan 15 75
7 Sweden 15 100
8 Netherlands 15 100
9 Iceland 15 100
10 Czech Republic 15 75
11 India 15 100
12 Turkey 15 100
13 United States 15 100
14 Australia 15 100
15 China 13 75
16 Taiwan 11 100
17 Portugal 10 100
18 France 10 100
19 Brazil 10 75
20 Canada 10 100
21 Greece 10 100
22 Mexico 10 100
23 Hong Kong S.A.R., China 10 75
24 Switzerland 10 100
25 Hungary 10 100