Embryology

House of Lords written question – answered on 22nd October 2008.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How the United Kingdom Stem Cell Initiative assisted with recommendations regarding provisions for therapeutic cloning in Australia; and to what extent members of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority or officials in the Department of Health have provided advice on the regulation of such work to the Embryo Research Licensing Committee of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council.

Photo of Lord Darzi of Denham Lord Darzi of Denham Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

The United Kingdom Stem Cell Initiative was completed in 2005. Prior to that there were no links between officials working on the UK Stem Cell Initiative and the Embryo Research Licensing Committee of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Neither have Department of Health officials provided advice to the NHMRC since then.

I understand from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that members of the HFEA executive and the (then) chair, Suzi Leather, have had teleconferences with colleagues in the fertility regulatory sector in Australia including representatives from the Embryo Research Licensing Committee. These discussions have included the provision of information about the activities of a UK centre that had cell nuclear replacement research licence.

HFEA members on the authority's Scientific and Clinical Advances Advisory Group have provided advice, at the NHMRC's request, on a proposed biological definition of embryo.

In addition, the HFEA has informed us that it is possible that authority members may also have liaised with the NHMRC's Embryo Research Licensing Committee on the regulation of work involving therapeutic cloning in their individual capacities, rather than as representatives of the authority.

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