Facility Collects Embryos for Stem Cell Research
Scientists in San Diego are operating what is believed to be the first public embryo bank in the U.S., the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The bank, called Stem Cell Resource, collects unused embryos donated by clients of in vitro fertilization clinics.
The bank is intended to sidestep regulations that prohibit federal funds from being used for research involving embryonic stem cells.
Zach Hall, president of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, said the bank could be particularly useful in California because of an expected increase in demand for embryonic stem cells from scientists for research that could be funded by Proposition 71. California voters in 2004 approved the measure to provide $3 billion over 10 years to fund stem cell research.
Jeanne Loring, a founder of the bank, said it plans to provide the embryos to stem cell researchers at no cost.
Dr. David Smotrich, a La Jolla physician specializing in IVF, has provided about $100,000 of his personal funds for the launch of the Resource. Private funds from the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in San Diego have reimbursed some of Smotrich's contribution.
Loring said the Resource would create a scientific committee to review applications for embryos to ensure researchers' legitimacy and capability to undertake the proposed work. Two boards will oversee the Resource's consent procedures and review its work to guarantee compliance with national and state standards, according to Loring.
However, some ethicists have raised questions about whether embryo donors are receiving sufficient information about possible uses of the embryos (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/7).
In related news, KCET's "Life & Times" on Tuesday is scheduled to include an interview with Michael Friedman, an oncologist, former acting commissioner of FDA and member of the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee, a 29-member panel created by Proposition 71 to oversee administration of the stem cell research funds, about the ongoing legal challenges ("Life & Times," KCET, 3/7).
The complete transcript and audio of the program in RealPlayer will be available online after the broadcast.