Thursday, August 10, 2006

New scheme for egg donation at Newcastle; message about therapeutic cloning?

According to an announcement on July 27, 2006, the research team at Newcastle would pay about half the costs of a patient's IVF treatment in return for the donation of half the eggs she produced.

By itself, this is a somewhat interesting "new approach" to the problem of obtaining human eggs for research in embryonic stem cells [hESC]. HOWEVER, there is an underlying point.

Until last year [2005], the Newcastle scientists tried to clone human
embryos from adult cells and spare eggs from fertility treatment. This produced a
single success in May 2005, the only proven human embryo produced by cloning
anywhere in the world, after the discrediting of Hwang Woo-suk's work in South

That Newcastle is now promoting an IVF cost-sharing scheme suggests that their therapeutic cloning [SCNT] efforts have not been particularly successful. This may also explain why they have not published any further papers in the area. There may be a message here for the renewed SCNT efforts in the US in California and at Harvard.

Alison Murdoch is the director of the Newcastle fertility center.


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