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Last Updated: Friday, 21 April 2006, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Stem cell research Kirk backing
Stem cells
Stem cells hold the promise of many new treatments
The limited use of surplus embryos from fertility treatments in stem cell therapy research has been backed by a Church of Scotland committee.

The conclusion comes in an embryonic and adult stem cell research study, going to the General Assembly in May.

The Society, Religion and Technology Project (SRT) examined the issue on clinical and theological grounds.

Case studies looked at treating conditions such as neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes and blood diseases.

The SRT working group included stem cell scientists, doctors, ethicists and theologians.

It is a matter of considerable debate as to at what stage in development one can talk about human beings having the full attribute of personhood
Doctor Donald Bruce
Project convener

The report, issued by the Kirk's Church and Society Council, recognised that for some in the church "the embryo already has the same human dignity as a person who has been born".

But the majority of the group took the view that "the moral status of the human embryo" was not established until some time into its biological development after conception.

The group recommended that surplus human embryos arising from in-vitro fertilisation or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis should be used in stem cells research, subject to a 14-day limit.

It opposed the deliberate creation of human embryos for research by IVF methods or nuclear transfer cloning, except into serious diseases and only under exceptional circumstances.

In-depth study

SRT director Doctor Donald Bruce told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "It's one thing to take an embryo that's now regarded as surplus to IVF and will be destroyed anyway and make some practical use of it.

"It's quite a different matter to actually create one, but the General Assembly will decide this in a month's time when it debates this formally, so we will wait to see whether they accept that viewpoint."

He added: "It is a matter of considerable debate as to at what stage in development one can talk about human beings having the full attribute of personhood and that is something we have been examining in real depth in this report."


SEE ALSO:
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Testicle cells may aid research
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Adult stem cells 'fusion hope'
15 Dec 05 |  Health
Stem cell therapy helps MS woman
16 Nov 05 |  Scotland
Q&A: Stem cells
19 May 05 |  Health


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