British Fertility Society response to the House of Commons vote on interspecies embryos and saviour siblings

Dr Mark Hamilton, Chair of the British Fertility Society said:

“The BFS welcomes the outcome of today’s votes in the House of Commons on the use of human admixed embryos in research and on so called “Saviour Siblings”. The Society has argued for a permissive but rigorously regulated approach to both of these issues and the BFS response to the Government’s white paper can be seen at:

The BFS consider human admixed embryos a vitally important avenue of research which provides us with the tools to explore the biology of fertilisation, early embryo development and stem cell function.  This work will contribute enormously to advances in the new science of regenerative medicine with the capability of improving our understanding of the mechanisms of chronic debilitating disease as well as the causes of infertility. Moreover there is the very real and exciting possibility that this science may translate in time to the development of new treatments to deal with common debilitating neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease and help in our management of complex infertility problems.

The use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to identify embryos which will be a genetic match for seriously ill children (i.e. “Saviour Siblings”), for whom the transfer of matched umbilical cord blood derived stem cells may be life saving, has the strong support of the BFS.  The BFS recognises that for some this area of medical practice is controversial and poses difficult ethical questions.  However, in a carefully regulated environment as exists in the UK, the birth through IVF of a much wanted and cherished child in its own right, coupled with the opportunity to help an existing sick child, is acceptable clinical practice in the view of the BFS.  The decision by the House is sensible and in the rare instances when such cases arise offers families a real opportunity for help in extraordinarily distressing circumstances.”

For more information: please contact the British Fertility Society press office