More MS news articles for July 2001

Many Couples Would Donate Embryonic Stem Cells for Medical Research

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jul 05 - Nearly half of couples with frozen embryonic stem cells left over from infertility treatment would donate them to medical research, according to the results of a small online survey by the American Infertility Association (AIA).

What becomes of such pre-embryonic cells is currently at the center of debate among scientists, politicians, religious leaders and patient advocates. Right now, most of these cells are discarded once they are no longer useful to a couple although a small fraction are donated to other couples. Some scientists and patients' groups have argued that couples should have the option of donating the cells to research.

"It's a very difficult decision for couples to decide what to do with leftover fertilized eggs," Dr. Joann Paley Galst, a psychologist in private practice in New York City and a board member of the AIA, said in an interview with Reuters Health. "Donating them to medical research is a positive option for people that, in turn, may help many others with disease," she added.

The survey questionnaire was posted on the AIA's Web site. In all, 104 people responded.

In a statement, the AIA noted that "nearly 50% of couples with pre-embryonic cells in cryogenic storage would donate them to research as a first choice, versus the 9% who would prefer to have their extra pre-embryonic cells destroyed."

A summary of the findings indicates that "respondents were interested in more information about the type of research pre-embryos would be used for (82%), felt the government should play a role in pre-embryo research (58%), believed that unused pre-embryos should be used to further medical science if this was possible (74%), and would want to designate how their pre-embryos would be used for research (78%)."

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd