2002-06-19 11:01:29 -0400
ZURICH (Reuters) - A prominent Swiss advisory panel said on Wednesday it supported a controversial government proposal to allow strictly regulated stem-cell research on human embryos.
Many scientists believe stem cells, which can develop into any type of human tissue, could provide ways of treating degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and be developed to generate replacement organs.
Opponents of the research object because many stem cells used for research are taken from embryos that have been aborted or left over from in vitro fertilisation programmes.
The vote of confidence from the National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics could improve the government's chances of winning approval for its plan, which will be presented to parliament later this year after a public debate.
The Swiss government wants to allow research only on embryos created by in vitro fertilisation that have never been implanted in a woman's uterus. "Gaining stem cells changes nothing of the fate of the embryo," the advisory commission reasoned.
The commission suggested stringent limits on research. Parents must give express permission and an ethics panel must approve all research projects. Embryos, organs, cells and cell lines may not be patented or traded.
The commission said research must stop 5 days after fertilisation.
A minority of the commission's members opposed the idea and recommended
a ban on all experiments on embryos.
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