Review of stem cell research

In 2001, Parliament voted to extend the law to allow research on embryos for therapeutic purposes under strictly regulated conditions.  An ad hoc Stem Cell Research Committee was established in the House of Lords to examine whether this extension was justified.  A central theme of the Committee’s deliberations was whether research on embryonic stem cells offered any potential benefits over and beyond those that might be achieved through research on stems cells derived from adults.  Its report in February 2002 concluded that there was a clear scientific case for allowing research on embryonic stem cells to continue.  However, the Committee recommended that, after 10 years or so there should be a “further review of scientific developments, particularly of the progress of adult stem cell research and therapies, and of the development of stem cell banks, with a view to determining whether research on human embryos is still necessary... ”. In its response to the ad hoc Committee report, the government accepted this recommendation. POST is currently working on a short report on this subject, looking at developments in stem cells derived from embryos and from adult cells, and summarising potential future developments in the field. For further information, please contact Dr Peter Border.