Wednesday, August 5, 2020

MEPs validate the facilitation of embryo research

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The amendments go by at a rapid pace. After five days of debate, the National Assembly wants to quickly close the second reading examination of the bioethics bill. The deputies voted in particular this Friday, July 31 in favor of the lifting of the obligation of the request for authorization for the researchers wishing to use embryonic stem cells.

Scientific debate

These cells taken from an embryo at the first stage of its development are of interest to research because they can specialize, that is to say transform into any type of cell in the body (muscles, blood, skin, etc.). What could open “A prospect of new therapeutic avenues, such as regenerative medicine », Explains the Biomedicine Agency.

→ THE FACTS. Bioethics: MPs adopt the bill after a marathon week

In its bill, the government proposed to submit research on these cells to a simple declaration and no longer to a request for authorization from the Biomedicine Agency. The article of the law was adopted in session.

→ ANALYSIS. Bioethics law: LREM reveals its dissensions during the debate on post-mortem ART

« It is a declaration under conditions: scientific relevance, proven medical purpose, respect for fundamental ethical principles “, Explained the Minister of Research Frédérique Vidal, trying to reassure LR deputies opposed to this reduction. ” These stem cells emanate from the embryo and cause its destruction. So why differentiate them? “Asked MP LR Thibault Bazin. Because research on the embryo itself always requires authorization from the Biomedicine Agency. ” A stem cell is not an embryo and is not intended to become one ”Replied the rapporteur of the special commission Philippe Berta (MoDem) during a debate that focused more on the scientific than the ethical.

Embryo culture time

Another elected LR, Patrick Hetzel, for his part pleaded for a ” solution alternative »: The use of iPS cells (induced pluripotent cells). These cells are taken from adults and can, after transformation, have the same differentiation potential as embryonic stem cells. “ We do not yet have the guarantee that we can actually use these iPS cells instead of embryonic cells. », Replied Philippe Berta, indicating his desire to continue research on these two systems« in parallel ».

The debate also focused on the maximum period of embryo culture in vitro for research. Senators had extended this limit ” by way of derogation At 21 days, compared to 7 today. The government and the Assembly committee proposed to set it at 14 days. It is this figure that has been retained, despite several attempts such as that of LREM deputy Anne-France Brunet, for whom “ medical benefits may result »An extension of this period to 21 days.

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