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Embryo-cell vote spotlights MEPs' ethics - EUobserver.com
EUOBSERVER / STRASBOURG - MEPs are divided over EU rules on new types of treatment for diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer's, with conservative deputies calling for a blanket European ban on medicines developed through stem cell research, a practice that is illegal in some countries.

After a series of delays, the European Parliament is set to vote on Wednesday (25 April) on the new EU regulation on so called "advanced therapies" - gene therapy, adult stem cell therapy and tissue engineering.

All three of them are based on the principle of replacing the abnormal body parts (genes, cells or tissues) affected by various diseases with healthy ones.

The stem cell therapy is the most controversial as it can involve cells being extracted from human embryos - a practise illegal in some countries, such as Poland and Italy.

Still, experts argue that it is crucial for the treatment of blindness, spinal cord injury, as well as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

At the moment, rules on the authorisation of the new therapies vary across the EU's 27 member states and most stakeholders claim that such differences hamper research and prevent access for patients from some countries to modern medical treatment which could save their lives.
by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:25:02 AM EST
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