Study: Donated embryos could result in more than 2,000 new embryonic stem cell lines

June 20, 2007

In a survey of more than one thousand infertility patients with frozen embryos, 60 percent of patients report that they are likely to donate their embryos to stem cell research, a level of donation that could result in roughly 2000 to 3000 new embryonic stem cell lines. Researchers from Duke University and Johns Hopkins University report the startling findings in the July 6, 2007 issue of Science.

In August of 2001, less than two dozen embryonic stem cell lines were made eligible for federal research funding. Most scientists now agree that the eligible lines have proven inadequate in number and unsafe for transnational research. Until recently, the best estimate of human embryos currently in storage that might be available for additional stem cell research was three percent. The 2003 study showed that donations would yield, at best, less than 300 new lines.

“Until now, the debate about federal funding for embryonic stem cell research has been dominated by lawmakers and advocates. But what about the preferences of infertility patients, who are ethically responsible for, and have legal authority over, these embryos"” asked Ruth Faden, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and one of the study’s two co-authors. “These patients face the often morally difficult task of deciding what to do with their remaining cryopreserved embryos. In the end, it is these people who determine whether embryos are available for adoption or for medical research.”

The 1,020 couples responding to the survey currently control the disposition of between 3,900 to 5,900 embryos. Nearly half of the respondents (49 percent) indicated they were somewhat or very likely to donate their frozen embryos to medical research. When asked about stem cell research in particular, this percentage increased to 60 percent.

“Our data suggest that the way many infertility patients resolve the very personal moral challenge of what to do with their embryos is consonant with the conclusions of the majority of Americans who support embryonic stem cell research,” said Anne Lyerly, M.D., Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University and co-author of the study. “Many infertility patients see donating their remaining embryos for medical research as preferable to simply discarding them or even to donating to another infertile couple for adoption.”

Infertility patients in the Lyerly and Faden study said they were more likely to donate their embryos to scientists for stem cell research (60 percent) than to other couples for adoption (22 percent of respondents). Embryos are currently frozen in fertility clinics because more were created than could safely be returned to a woman’s uterus at the time of fertilization or in order to increase the chances of pregnancy from a single cycle of in-vitro fertilization.

Source: Johns Hopkins University

Explore further: Cell mechanics are more complex than previously thought

Related Stories

Cell mechanics are more complex than previously thought

August 27, 2015

Cell mechanics are considerably more complex than previously thought and may affect cell structures at various levels. This finding is based on a collaborative research project conducted by an international research team ...

From pluripotency to totipotency

August 4, 2015

While it is already possible to obtain in vitro pluripotent cells (ie, cells capable of generating all tissues of an embryo) from any cell type, researchers from Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla's team have pushed the limits of ...

Scientists develop method for discovering rare cells

August 21, 2015

Scientists of the Hubrecht Institute Utrecht developed a new method for identifying rare cell types by single-cell mRNA sequencing. The newly developed algorithm, called RaceID, is very useful for identifying rare cell types ...

X chromosome inactivation

August 19, 2015

Each cell in a woman's body contains two X chromosomes. One of these chromosomes is switched off, because nobody can live with two active X chromosomes. Hendrik Marks and Henk Stunnenberg, molecular biologists at Radboud ...

Singapore scientists discover rejuvenation factors

August 13, 2015

Scientists from A*STAR's Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) have discovered metabolic rejuvenation factors in eggs. This critical finding furthers our understanding of how cellular metabolism changes during aging, and during ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.