The Dutch Health Council (Gezondheidsraad) has recommended that scientists be allowed to create embryos specifically for research purposes, in a move that will pave the way for embryo gene editing research in the Netherlands.
In a report submitted Tuesday to Minister for Health Edith Schippers, the Health Council recommended that the government abandon the current regulations that only allow research scientists to use embryos left over from procedures such as IVF.
Instead, the Council suggests that government develop and “updated legal and moral framework” that allows for the creation of embryos specifically for research. The exact ethical framework is yet to be developed, and Council spokesman Eert Schoten said that the initial experimentation should only take place under “strict conditions”.
If the regulations are changed, scientists will be able to edit embryos in a way that are unable to with excess IVF embryos. It will facilitate research into hereditary diseases such as Huntington’s disease and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.Critics say that the recommendations signal a slippery slope toward using human life as a “research tool”. Speaking with De Volkscrant, Erasmus University health law lecturer Ernst Hulst said he was “absolutely opposed” to the proposed changes.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Here’s something very odd. Back in 2015 terrifying news came from Brazil about an epidemic of microcephaly – babies born with very small heads and brain damage. It seemed to be associated with the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Neighbouring countries prepared for the spread of Zika with a sense of dread. Lobby groups urged relaxation of abortion restrictions.
But how often in the past six months have we heard about the Zika virus and microenphaly? A graph on Google trends shows that it has dropped off the media’s radar. With good reason – there has been no epidemic of microcephaly. The experts expected 1,000 cases, but there were only about 100.
Nobody knows why this is. There is an association between Zika and microcephaly, but it must be more complicated than scientists first thought. An article in the NEJM this week reports the good and canvases a number of explanations. It may be that for microencephaly to occur, a woman needs to contract both Zika and Dengue fever.
Perhaps there is a lesson here – however bad the news is, DON'T PANIC!! In particular, there is no need to push for changes in abortion legislation before we know all the facts...
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