Call for stem cell research legislation

Tuesday 25 May 2010 16.15
Stem cells - May have potential for various medical uses
Stem cells - May have potential for various medical uses

The Irish Stem Cell Foundation has held a news conference in Dublin to deal with issues raised in a recent RTÉ Prime Time report on stem cell treatments.

The foundation wants legislation to be brought in this year for the use of human embryonic stem cells in Ireland, allowing what it says is vital medical research to be accelerated.

It has called on the Irish Government to pass legislation that will clarify the issue and serve patients.

The ISCF claims that a lack of legislation is putting patients at unnecessary risk and preventing international investment and expertise coming to Ireland.

It wants the legislation to prohibit human cloning, animal human embryo production and provide for the possibility of couples donating embryos to assist other couples with fertility problems.

Supporters say the research has the potential to provide treatments for conditions including multiple sclerosis, spinal injury and Parkinson's disease.

Patient and Stem Cell Foundation Director Martin Codyre says the lack of legislation and information here has resulted in a lot of people being scammed for millions of euro every year on stem cell related treatments.

He says Irish-based research into legitimate cures for certain diseases will result from and should be permitted by legislation.

Opponents raise concerns that the technology can devalue human life.

Senator Rónán Mullen has sharply criticised the Irish Stem Cell Foundation for its 'manipulative and unfounded' claims regarding embryo stem cell research.

'The foundation is using the issue of rogue stem cell treatments in foreign jurisdictions as leverage for supporting unproven and unethical embryo research in this jurisdiction. This is a bizarre strategy as proponents of both types of treatment are guilty of making dubious claims about their efficacy,' he said.

'As usual this debate is muddied by confusing adult stem cell research with embryo stem cell research. Adult stem cell research is completely ethical and has led to dozens of treatments.

'Embryo stem cell research has led to no treatments whatsoever and few if any clinical trials. Embryo research is also deeply unethical in itself as it involves the killing of human beings at their earliest stage in life.'