The Canadian Institutes for Health Research is issuing guidelines that would permit publicly backed stem-cell research on "surplus" embryos created at fertility clinics -- and donated with the informed consent of the couples to whom they belong, the Toronto newspaper said. The CIHR is the federal agency that finances academic scientists.
Work on stem cells from aborted fetuses and amniotic fluid would also be eligible for financing, provided the research proposal does not influence a woman´s decision on whether to continue a pregnancy, according to a draft copy of the guidelines obtained by the newspaper.
Scientists relying on public money will be banned from creating human embryos in their labs solely for research purposes. They will also be prohibited from cloning embryos to produce children or for therapeutic purposes (for stem cells).
The Catholic Church and many pro-life groups have assailed research on human embryos because it entails the destruction of tiny lives.
Scientists in the private sector who do not rely on federal money for their work are not bound by the new regulations. To date, stem-cell research in Canada has focused on animal studies and cells from adult tissues.
In the past two years have scientists discovered that stem cells found in adult bone marrow, blood, muscle, skin and even fat may have the same versatility as those derived from embryos.