Boston IVF, a Waltham, Massachusetts-based organization of fertility clinics, said it has thousands of frozen embryos that could provide stem cells. The firm said it plans to begin contacting donor couples for permission to use their embryos so Harvard scientists can extract stem cells.
"Of the handful of couples we've contacted, they seem to be quite interested," Dr. Doug Powers, director of Boston IVF's laboratory, said, adding that a "decision to donate won't come up until they finish infertility treatment."
``It is our intention to make these cells available to anyone who would like them to do research,'' Douglas Melton, chairman of Harvard's cell and molecular biology department, told The Boston Globe for Friday's editions. ``They are not being prepared with the intention of having any rights, commercial or otherwise.''
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute will finance the arrangement between the school and the clinic. Melton is on the staff of the Maryland-based private foundation.
The institute will give Boston IVF $"80,000 over two years to cover the cost of providing the embryos. The institute already provides general support for Melton's lab at Harvard, he said Friday, and the lab would receive no extra money specifically for extracting and preserving the stem cells.
The arrangement between the fertility clinic and the university is part of a three-way collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a nonprofit medical research and philanthropic organization in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Boston IVF serves about a thousand couples a year, and has helped conceive about 7,500 babies in five years. It stores all unused embryos in giant liquid nitrogen freezers.
Massachusetts law requires oversight by a scientific ethics board for donation of embryos. Harvard's institutional review board will monitor the deal with Boston IVF. Any embryonic stem cell research conducted at Harvard would not be eligible for federal funding per President Bush's announcement.
The National Institutes of Health will announce the names
today of 10 organizations that possess stem cells eligible
for use by federally financed researchers.
Hawking, author of the best-selling A Brief History Of Time and a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, recommended 'well-aimed manipulation' of human genes. Through this humans could 'raise the complexity of... the DNA [they are born with], thereby improving people'. He conceded the road to genetic modification would be a long one but said: 'We should follow this road if we want biological systems to remain superior to electronic ones.'
An enormous shift has occurred in the public debate over
financing for studies of human embryonic stem cells. Many
question whether President Bush's plan is adequate to
support the science.
The billionaire entrepreneur made his startling announcement in an opinion piece published in the New York Times. Stanford University President John Hennessy, who was told in advance of Clark's decision, alerted his faculty late yesterday.
The university has already broken ground on the center, which will marry several science and engineering disciplines to develop new cures for disease. The center is named in Clark's honor.
"Congress and the president are thwarting part of the intended purpose of this center by supporting restrictions on stem cell research and cloning," Clark wrote in his op-ed article. "It now seems that creating genetically compatible new skin cells for burn victims, pancreas cells for diabetics, nerve cells for those with spinal cord injuries and many, many other potential advances will soon be illegal in the United States."
Clark did not shut the door to reinstating the gift in the future. Instead, he said, he is suspending his pledge "pending the outcome of political deliberations."
University officials refused to comment on Clark's decision. In a prepared statement to be released today, Stanford President Hennessy said the university is "saddened by Mr. Clark's decision."
"Mr. Clark's initial $90 million gift will allow us to continue to build this vital center," Hennessy said.
Stanford scientists will continue to pursue embryonic stem cell research, Hennessy wrote, but they are "concerned" that restrictions on stem cell research and a pro-life ban on nonreproductive cloning will slow progress for promising clinical therapies.
Clark was an associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford from 1979 to 1982.
In 1999, the maverick visionary who founded Silicon Graphics, Netscape, Healtheon and MyCFO pledged $150 million to build the research center -- known informally as "Bio-X."
In his Times op-ed piece, Clark had strong words about President Bush's Aug. 9 decision federal funds will not be allowed to go to any new embryonic stem cell research. -
A leading group of physicians, scientists and health law experts and others will convene at Boston University, Sept. 21-22, to push for a global ban on genetic procedures that would fundamentally change the nature of the human species. Speakers will address a groundbreaking North American conference, "Beyond Cloning: Protecting Humanity from Species-Altering Procedures."
"Uncontrolled use of the new genetic technologies puts us at risk of turning people into products and setting us on a dehumanizing road to genetic genocide," stated George Annas, professor and chair of Boston University's Health Law Department. "Our conference will consider intellectual and policy frameworks to reverse this dangerous trend."
The conference will bring together experts in human genetics, medicine, health law, human rights, environmental protection and international affairs. The two-day event is sponsored by the Boston University Health Law Department and other groups.
Conference sponsors support human genetic research, including stem cell research, that might help prevent or cure diseases. They call for clear policy lines to be drawn between these acceptable technologies and those that would open the door to a future of "designer babies."
"Until recently, the debate on human genetic modification has been abstract and speculative," declared cell biologist Stuart Newman of New York Medical College. "With rapid developments in genetic engineering and cloning technologies, advocates of a global ban must speak loudly and move quickly. We must halt this slide into a biologically segregated world of genetically designed human beings."
The conference will address three topic areas: Setting Boundaries, Taking Action and Toward a Global Accord on Protecting Humanity. Speakers include Lori Andrews, Illinois Institute of Technology; Patricia Baird, University of British Columbia; Brent Blackwelder, President, Friends of the Earth; Alexander Capron, University of Southern California; Richard Hayes, Center for Genetics and Society; Andrew Imparato, American Association of People with Disabilities; Steven Marks, FXB Center of Heath and Human Rights, Harvard University; Judy Norsigian, Boston Women's Health Book Collective; Susannah Sirkin, Physicians for Human Rights; Allyn Taylor, World Health Organization; Michael Dorsey, Sierra Club; Michael Grodin and Rosario Isasi, Global Lawyers and Physicians; Debra Harry, Indigenous People's Council on Biocolonialism; Eric Juengst and Max Mehlman, Case Western Reserve; and Ann Snyder, Harvard Law School Ethics, Law and Biotechnology Society.
According to Evelyne Shuster, Ph.D., Board of Advisors of Global Lawyers & Physicians, "Most of Europe and many nations in the developing world are committed to banning the genetic alteration of the human species. It is imperative that the United States and all other countries do likewise. We hope our conference can provide the impetus to accomplish this historic objective."
The conference will be held at the George Sherman Union on the Boston
University campus, 775 Commonwealth Ave. Registration
http://www.bumc.bu.edu/www/sph/lw/website/index.htm or call Emily Bajsci at 617-638-4626. -