What are the consequences of “One of Us” on research?
One of Us calls on the EU to stop funding research activities that destroy human embryos, including those aimed at obtaining stem cells, and – larger – research involving the use of human embryonic stem cells (hESC).
What are EU rules in this field?
In this research field, the EU has already established strict limits for it funding. It does not fund:
- research activities direct towards the human cloning
- research activities directed to modify the genetic inheritance of human beings that could make such changes heritable;
- research activities intended to create human embryos only for research
Furthermore, because of resistance from several EU Member States, the EU has agreed not to fund activities which would lead to the destruction of the human embryo. This means that the EU does not fund the creation of new embryonic stem cells lines.
In short, the EU only funds research activities involving existing human embryonic stem cells lines derived from 7-days-old leftover embryos from assisted reproduction which are granted by couples for research and which would be destroyed otherwise. Furthermore, the EU does so only for countries which allow these research activities and after strict national and European ethical review of research projects.
This compromise between different national ethical views of the “beginning of life” was reconducted by the EU in Horizon 2020 (article 19), the new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation in Europe (2014-2020) which was adopted on 3 December 2013.
Why should the EU keep funding human embryonic stem cells research?
This field of research is very complex and quite new. Scientists and researchers need time and resources to explore the massive potential of all types of stem cells: this includes using adult, induced pluripotent, embryonic and fetal stem cells.
Because of their unique biological properties (they can multiply endlessly and create all types of cells of the human body), human embryonic stem cells have raised high therapeutic hopes for a number of degenerative diseases (e.g. heart failures, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s).
Watch the videos below to know more about the topic.