Scientists should be allowed to conduct research for not more than 14 but 28 days on embryos that are kept alive specifically for this purpose. The Health Board advises this.
The Health Board investigated this matter at the request of outgoing Health Minister Ernst Kuipers.
The embryos remaining after IVF are used in scientific research. The maximum in the Embryo Act is now 14 days, but the Health Board recommends increasing it to 28 days.
According to the Council, this amendment could lead to valuable knowledge. Currently, there is “practically no knowledge” about the development of human fetuses between two and four weeks. At this stage, important processes occur, such as organ development.
Science can thus benefit greatly from additional research opportunities. This allows scientists to investigate why some embryos develop into children with spina bifida or heart problems.
Researchers can already learn more about human fetuses older than one month. This is because old and non-living material left after a miscarriage can be used in research.
The Council wants to take sensitivity into account
The Health Board takes into account the “social perspective” in its advice. According to the council, the extension from two to four weeks can be explained, but research on embryos remains a sensitive topic.
In week 22, the fetus develops awareness and feeling. But critics believe that no or limited research should be done on embryos. In order to create support, according to the Council, all interests must be taken into account.
Scientists were initially able to keep the embryos alive for up to a week. Technological developments now allow them to extend that period. Researchers are not expected to immediately start working on this collectively. But the Council believes that new options should be studied and decided upon in a timely manner.
“Coffee buff. Twitter fanatic. Tv practitioner. Social media advocate. Pop culture ninja.”