The 14-day limit after fertilization should be extended in human embryo experiments, according to bioethicists

The 14-day limit after fertilization should be extended in human embryo experiments, according to bioethicists

Since the first successful birth of in vitro fertilization in the late 1970s, human embryo research has been subject to time limits and developmental parameters .

The essential reason for imposing these limits was that, although the practice to benefit human health and improve reproduction is considered acceptable, in vitro research must be concluded 14 days after fertilization , that is, when implantation is normally complete. in the womb.

Progressive enlargement

Now, however, an international team of bioethicists and scientists, led by a Case Western Reserve University researcher, argue in a new study published in Science that it may be justified to go beyond the 14-day limit.

Insoo Hyun , professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and lead author of the paper, urges policy makers and the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) to consider, with prudence and a gradual approach, scientific exploration beyond the 14-day limit , also taking into account the benefits of doing so.

ISSCR is expected to publish updated guidelines for embryo and stem cell research soon. Possible benefits of studying human embryos beyond the 14-day limit include understanding how early developmental disorders originate and developing therapies that address the causes of infertility, developmental disorders, and failed pregnancy.

After 14 days, the embryo’s stem cells begin to migrate from here to there and begin to form a body. By then we measure a millimeter and a half. During this process, frequent problems occur that cause malformations or miscarriages without the parents or their doctors ever knowing why they happened. It is not foreseeable where this process of manipulating and destroying embryonic human beings ends, but Hyun and his colleagues propose six principles that can be used to assess whether research on human embryos can go beyond the 14-day limit, in incremental and measured steps.

Its principles, among others, include promoting research proposals to be peer-reviewed by qualified and independent science and ethics committees . One should also first assess the viability of the culture in the last 14 days and, if so, assess whether those newly allowed experiments were beneficial enough to justify further human use.

In other words, draw new red lines, which are still a set of ideas where culture, science, values ​​and worldview converge: