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

Jun 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: Novel marker discovered for stem cells derived from human umbilical cord blood

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Embryonic stem cells: Reprogramming in early embryos

Mar 26, 2014

An Oregon Health & Science University scientist has been able to make embryonic stem cells from adult mouse body cells using the cytoplasm of two-cell embryos that were in the "interphase" stage of the cell ...

Researchers create embryonic stem cells without embryo

Jan 29, 2014

(Phys.org) —Since the discovery of human embryonic stem cells, scientists have had high hopes for their use in treating a wider variety of diseases because they are pluripotent, which means they are capable ...

Recommended for you

New pain relief targets discovered

9 hours ago

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

Building 'smart' cell-based therapies

10 hours ago

A Northwestern University synthetic biology team has created a new technology for modifying human cells to create programmable therapeutics that could travel the body and selectively target cancer and other ...

Proper stem cell function requires hydrogen sulfide

13 hours ago

Stem cells in bone marrow need to produce hydrogen sulfide in order to properly multiply and form bone tissue, according to a new study from the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

Men who show signs of chronic inflammation in non-cancerous prostate tissue may have nearly twice the risk of actually having prostate cancer than those with no inflammation, according to results of a new study led by researchers ...

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...