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July 15, 2002

1.       Germany's Strict New Stem Cell Law Takes Effect
2.       Italian doctor denies cloning report
3.       Campaigner wins right for donor babies challenge
4.       Chinese race toward cloned human

Germany's Strict New Stem Cell Law Takes Effect

Thu Jul 11, 9:26 AM ET
By Ned Stafford
FRANKFURT (Reuters Health) - Germany's Federal Cabinet on Wednesday issued
legal regulations for a strict new embryonic stem cell research law, and
announced that the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin will be the agency
responsible for overseeing stem cell research.
The new law had been passed in late April, but details--including which
agency would have oversight responsibilities--had to be finalized and
approved by the Federal Cabinet before the law officially went into effect.
Under those regulations, researchers wishing to import embryonic stem cells
can now apply for approval at the Robert Koch Institute, which is similar to
the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( news
0and%20Prevention%22&c=&n=20&yn=c&c=news&cs=nw>  - web sites
n%22&h=c> ).
The Federal Cabinet on Wednesday also named the 18 members of the new
Central Ethics Commission for Stem Cell Research. The members represent the
fields of biology, ethics, medicine and theology, and will play a key role
in determining whether researchers obtain permission to import embryonic
stem cells.
Each application to import embryonic stem cells for research will be
reviewed by the ethics commission. The commission then is required to issue
a statement to the Robert Koch Institute on the ethical justification of a
research project.
The law states that approval for import of embryonic stem cells will be
given only for research that has "high-ranking" goals and for which there
are no alternatives to using embryonic stem cells.
Rembert Unterstell, a spokesman in Bonn for the German Research Council
(DFG), told Reuters Health that the council was generally pleased with the
new law, noting that officially the DFG had said of the law: "We can live
with it."
However, he said the DFG is opposed to the harsh penalties contained in the
law, which states that researchers convicted of breaking the law could be
sentenced to up to 3 years in prison or fined as much as 50,000 euros.
The DFG is concerned that the penalties will hinder the ability of German
researchers to network with foreign researchers.
"It will make international cooperation for German scientists much more
difficult," he said.
Under the new German law, only embryonic stem cells that date from before
Jan. 1, 2002, can be imported into Germany. Other requirements include that
stem cells come from so-called "surplus embryos" produced by in vitro
fertilization but not needed for pregnancies and that couples providing the
stem cells were not paid money.


Friday, 12 July, 2002, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK

Italian doctor denies cloning report

BBC News

An Italian doctor, Severino Antinori, has denied a newspaper report that he
is in the process of cloning a human being.
A French newspaper, Liberation, published an interview quoting the professor
as saying that he had implanted eighteen cloned embryos inside women, one of
whom is now in her fifteenth week of pregnancy.
Under Italian law doctors involved in human cloning risk at least ten years
in prison.
Professor Antinori allegedly said the baby would be born outside Italy and
that he would wait until around twenty such babies had been born before
publishing a paper on his work.
He later said in a statement that the newspaper report had nothing to do
with the serious scientific work he was involved in. Professor Antinori has
always denied beining involved in preganancies brought about with cloned
human embryos, although he recently said that three women had been made
preganant using the about with cloned human embryos, although he recently
said that three women had been made preganant using the technique.
>From the newsroom of the BBC World Service
Campaigner wins right for donor babies challenge


ProLife campaigner Josephine Quintavalle has won permission to launch a High
Court battle over the "ethically objectionable" screening of test tube
embryos to provide "donor siblings" for sick children.
Giving leave Mr Justice Crane, sitting in London, said: "In my view there is
an arguable basis for granting permission."
Ms Quintavalle, acting on behalf of the public interest group Comment on
Reproductive Ethics (Core) won the go-ahead to apply for a ruling that the
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has no legal power to licence
embryo selection by "tissue typing".
The new technique involves choosing embryos for implantation in a mother's
womb to grow into a child with tissue matching that of an already existing
brother or sister.
Ms Quintavalle argues the new technique is a dangerous first step towards
the creation of "designer babies".
Last December, the HFEA announced its decision in principle to allow the
technique to be used in cases where parents wished to have a child capable
of donating tissue - for example, blood from the umbilical cord or bone
marrow - to a sick elder brother or sister.
The HFEA has already issued a licence in the case of a family where a child
is suffering from a rare, genetically inherited life-threatening blood
disease and the parents want another child without the genetic problem so
that it can donate blood from its umbilical cord to treat the sick sibling.
In a two-hour hearing, Mr Gordon argued that the HFEA decision to licence
embryo screening for this purpose breached the 1990 Human Fertilisation and
Embryology Act.
Parliament had only intended embryologists to be allowed to distinguish
between healthy and unhealthy embryos in order to assist a woman to carry
and give birth to a healthy baby.
The judge ordered that the case should come on for a full hearing as quickly
as possible because of the number of families with sick children expected to
want to apply for this type of embryo screening.

Story filed: 16:16 Friday 12th July 2002



Chinese race toward cloned human


China is reported to have cloned more than 30 human embryos.
They are being used for medical research but bring closer the possibility of
an entire cloned baby.
The Sunday Times reports that the cloning technique being pioneered in China
will soon be revealed in a major scientific journal.
Other scientists have claimed they have cloned human embryos but none have
survived as long as the Chinese ones.
Professor Lu Guangxiu, of the Xiangya school of Medicines in Hunan province,
says she wants to develop a way of growing spare body parts which can extend
She is believed to have used a refined version of the technique used to
produce Dolly the Sheep five years ago.
Xiangzhong Yang, a professor of biotechnology at Connecticut University,
knows some of the details of her work and predicts she will produce human
transplant tissue within five years.
He told The Sunday Times
<,,2086,00.html> : "She has embryos,
money and the backing of the Chinese government."

Story filed: 10:03 Sunday 14th July 2002

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