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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 00:13 GMT
Women donate eggs for cheaper IVF
A human egg
It is the first time payment can be given for IVF eggs used in research
A UK fertility centre has started a scheme offering half-price IVF treatment for women who donate their eggs to research.

The Newcastle NHS Fertility Centre at Life has selected 15 women to take part in the scheme after 100 came forward.

Six patients will begin treatment this month and receive 1,500 off their IVF treatment - about half the usual cost.

Scientists say extra eggs for research could progress stem cell therapies for conditions like Parkinson's.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority issued the licence for the two-year project to start.

The human eggs which are donated to research will be used in the creation of embryos from which stem cells can be derived.

'Excellent response'

It will be the first time that payment can be given for IVF eggs used in research.

Until now, the researchers have only been permitted to ask women to donate eggs which have not fertilised for research.

It was an egg obtained in this way which was used to create an early-stage cloned human embryo at Newcastle in 2005.

The team, based at the North East of England Stem Cell Institute at Newcastle's Centre for Life, has also been allowed to ask women having IVF to donate "spare" eggs, if they produced 12 or more eggs.

But the team said the number of eggs this produced was too small.

Professor Alison Murdoch, who leads the Newcastle team, said: "We are delighted at the excellent response from women in the North East to this important research.

"We hope that significant progress will be made in the research and that it will also help many couples to have a family from IVF treatment."

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