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Home arrow In Brief arrow Head of BioEthics InterGroup, MEP Peter Liese : "Embryonic stem cell research reaching its END" !?

Head of BioEthics InterGroup, MEP Peter Liese : "Embryonic stem cell research reaching its END" !?

Written by ACM
Thursday, 17 November 2011

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"Pioneers" of embryonic stem cell research halt clinical trials => Embryonic stem cell research has reached its end, says Peter Liese : Consequences for EU research policy = Focus should be laid on adult stem cell research" 


The US-company Geron has announced to halt its clinical trials with embryonic stem cells. The company has invested millions of dollars over the past years in this kind of research and started the first trial with human embryonic stem cells one year ago. They now announced to stop it and concentrate on their core business, which is cancer research. The announcement of the clinical trial last year had been celebrated as a big breakthrough in science, and the company has invested a lot to convince the US-authority FDA  to approve the trial. The official justification for the halt is that the company lacks money, but independent observers from all over the world see the decision as a prove for the thesis that embryonic stem cells are not the breakthrough- technology that is seemed to be."

- "After ten years of hype, the supporters of embryonic stem cell research finally have to face reality. If even the "pioneers" of embryonic stem cell research cannot generate funds for their trials, it is clear that the belief in this kind of research is gone", said Peter Liese, medical doctor and spokesman on health of the biggest political group in the European Parliament (EPP- Christian Democrats).

- "The latest development demands also consequences for the EU research policy. The halt of the clinical trial with embryonic stem cells has clearly shown that research on embryonic stem cells does not bring added value for the patients. We should therefore not finance it with European public money. Our effort should concentrate on ethically unchallenging alternatives like adult stem cells and stem cells from the umbilical cord. These alternatives have been successfully used in hundreds of clinical trials for more than 70 diseases".

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+ Also the decision of the European Court of Justice in October demands a policy change in Europe. The Court has decided that human embryonic stem cells can not be patented in Europe, and in the justification, the Court referred to human dignity. "If a technology cannot be patented in Europe, it makes no sense to support it with European money. The Commission in its research programs even demands scientists to patent their innovations. It is not useful to do research in Europe and leave the commercial exploitation to other parts of the world", said Liese.

Current drafts of the new Commission research and innovation program Horizon 2020 however indicate a different direction. The Commission obviously intents to finance not only research with human embryonic stem cells but also the derivation of the stem cells with includes the destruction of the embryo. Under the current 7th Research Framework Program research which implies the destruction of human embryos is not funded.

- "I'm confident that the new developments, including the Court case and the announcement of Geron, will convince the European Commission that the future lies in the alternatives and we should not waste European tax payer's money for a technology that is very much disputed, prohibited in some Member States and obviously not successful", Liese said.  

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