HC Deb 19 July 2001 vol 372 cc440-1W
Barbara Follett

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has received applications for research for the purposes set out in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001. [6035]

Yvette Cooper

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has recently received an application for research from the Centre for Genome Research in Edinburgh. I understand that this centre has an established research team which has already held licences for embryo and stem cell research.

The application proposes to establish stem cell lines from spare embryos, with a view to depositing the resulting cells in the Medical Research Council stem cell bank, to improve understanding of the growth and survival of pre-implantation human embryos, thereby benefiting in-vitro fertilisation treatment programmes. The proposed programme will also examine the potential for cell replacement and tissue repair therapies for a range of serious diseases.

Embryo research in the United Kingdom is subject to the most comprehensive regulation. As with all applications for research involving embryos, this application will be subject to detailed consideration by the HFEA to ensure that it meets the strict requirements of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. Before deciding on the application, the HFEA requires full details of the project and Research Ethics Committee approval. The application must also explain the project's objectives, protocols and why the use of embryos is necessary for the research.

This application will require specific justification for the extraction of stem cells and will be subject to peer review on its merits. It will also require details of patient information and consent forms specifying the purpose of the research and all possible uses of the cells lines derived from it. If approved, the project will be closely monitored by the HFEA to ensure that it continues to meet the conditions laid down by the 1990 Act and any conditions imposed by the authority.

Forward to