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Research into the embryo: the forced march towards authorisation

Published on 08/27/2013 in Press releases


Tuesday 4 December 2012

Research into the embryo: the forced march towards authorisation

Deliberation resumes tonight at the Senate despite the deception of research and the ground gained by the iPS cells.

Tonight, Tuesday 4 December between 10 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., the Senate will be examining a draft law "authorising research into the embryo and embryo stem cells under certain conditions". If the draft is adopted by the two chambers, France will change from a system of interdiction with waivers, to a system of contained authorisation: the principle of protecting the human being will become an exception.

Contrary to the 2011 bioethics law, and without involving the public forum, the draft law intends to radically liberalise research using the human embryo. Not only will the fundamental principle be one of authorisation but the containment of the principle is rendered powerless. The constraints, initially presented as being a warrant of balance, are actually inoperative. The most emblematic containment element of the 2011 law is not to use research into the embryo if there is no alternative capable of producing the same result. If the draft goes through, this constraint disappears (by a government amendment).

This is despite the fact that in addition to ethical considerations, recourse to research into the human embryo is now encountering difficulties in finding scientific justifications.

  • Not only are embryo stem cells proving to be disappointing ...
    During the AFM-Telethon press conference yesterday morning, Marc Peschanski, I-Stem Director, referred to his work financed by donations from the Telethon. Far from the "spectacular breakthroughs" announced over the years, he described the development of a project which began in 2009 based on embryo stem cells, with a hypothesis of clinical testing by the end of 2013, or 2014, into skin ulcers related to drepanocytosis. However, other international teams have already presented major breakthroughs since then, without using the embryo, thanks to adult stem cells used on cutaneous necroses.
  • ... but they have been overtaken by the iPS cells
    Nobel Medicine Prize-winner, Pr Yamanaka, put his participation in a colloquium held at the Paris Academy of Sciences on 30 November to good use to announce breakthroughs in cellular therapy thanks to non-embryo iPS stem cells. In 2013, his team of 200 Japanese researchers is beginning clinical testing into AMD. This will be followed by the treatment of spine marrow lesions, Parkinson's disease and blood pathologies.

The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation points out that these fundamental deliberations mean society having to choose, on issues that cannot be left to duelling between experts, or to political entities, but which must be open to the public at large and made known to everybody. This is the context within which the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation is launching this week an awareness-raising campaign through three advertisements to be published in several weeklies.

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