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60% of Couples OK Embryos for Research

Most Infertile Couples Favor Stem Cell Research; Fewer Would Donate Embryos to Others

2,000 New Stem Cell Lines continued...

Faden and Lyerly estimated that the availability of 100,000 new embryos could conservatively lead to 2,000 new stem cell lines -- 100 times as many lines as are being used in federally funded research today.

“Other lines are being used in privately funded research,” Faden says. “But it is clear that if federal funding restrictions were lifted, embryos would be available in large numbers.”

The fact that so few infertility patients questioned in the survey (22% of respondents with embryos) were willing to donate their unused frozen embryos to couples intending pregnancy adds a new wrinkle to the national stem cell debate, Lyerly tells WebMD.

She is an ob-gyn at Duke University Medical Center and a faculty member at Duke’s Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and History of Medicine.

“The presumption has been that if you respect embryos you would be less likely to want to see them used for research or destroyed than for [pregnancy],” she says. “What we found was that the people who are most invested in these embryos -- emotionally, genetically, and financially -- are reluctant to have them turned into children outside the context of their families, without their love and care.”

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