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Embryology

House of Lords written question – answered on 24th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 20 December 2010 (WA 247), why the minutes of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) Research Licence Committee Meeting on 16 March 2005 contained no reference to the autoimmune nature of type 1 diabetes before concluding that cloning offered a means of avoiding "the likelihood of rejection of the transplanted cells"; and what information was communicated to the HFEA prior to 16 March 2005 in which the autoimmune nature of type 1 diabetes was highlighted or queried in relation to the licensing of this project.

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Thornton on 6 April 2010 (WA 393) and by Earl Howe on 20 December 2010 (WA 247), why cloned human embryos created using the nuclei from a patient with type 1 diabetes are still considered by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to be necessary or desirable to improve treatment of this disease when no further discussion of this was included in the Research Licence Inspection Report and associated minutes pertaining to the meeting on 18 June 2008.

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 19 May 2009 (WA 290), what specific epigenetic criteria would satisfy the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that iPS cells could replace the use of (a) stem cells derived from IVF embryos or (b) stem cells derived from cloned embryos following nuclear transfer; what consideration the HFEA has made of epigenetic defects associated with somatic cell nuclear transfer; and whether corresponding defects in the product of interspecies nuclear transfer would therefore preclude the licensing of such entities for research as "necessary or desirable" or, if not, why stricter criteria might be imposed by the HFEA for the feasibility of research with alternatives than to the purported legitimacy of using embryos in research with the same stated aims.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the research licence committees of the authority exercise their functions in accordance with the procedure, and applying the criteria, prescribed in law. In reaching a determination, a licence committee will take into account the opinion of expert peer reviewers, including an opinion on whether the use of embryos in the proposed research is necessary or desirable for one of the purposes specified in the relevant legislation, and relevant general advice from the authority's scientific and clinical advances advisory committee. The HFEA publishes minutes of licence committees on its website at: www.hfea.gov.uk.

The HFEA has also advised that it does not comment on past decisions made by licence committees and future licensing decisions will be made in the light of the best scientific and other relevant information available at the time.

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