Human embryo research also allowed in Spain | RTVE.es
Human embryo research has also been permitted in Spain since 2003, although it requires a project approved by the National Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction, must be conducted by a qualified team and under supervision, and requires the consent of the parents.
This was the explanation given by two embryologists from the Medical Department of Women's Health Dexeus, Anna Veiga and Montse Boada, at the news that the UK approved the genetic modification of human embryos for research purposes. According to these two doctors, the current Spanish legislation on assisted reproduction techniques (Act 14/2006) only allows in vitro development until the 14th day.
In most cases, research projects do not go beyond day 5-7, which is when human embryos reach the blastocyst stage, which precedes the stage required for implantation in the uterus. Besides, these investigations are only for scientific purposes, and under no circumstances are modified embryos implanted for reproductive purposes.
The current legal framework would only approve the conduct of procedures in human embryos for therapeutic purposes once there are reasonable and proven guarantees that this would prevent the transmission of a given disease, and on the condition that it was previously authorised by the competent health authority following a favourable report by the National Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction, Women's Health Dexeus explains.
LOW REPRODUCTIVE EFFICIENCY IN HUMANS
Embryologists Anna Veiga and Montse Boada tell us that "humans have a low reproductive efficiency compared to other species. Studies on the early stages of embryonic development and implantation in the uterus are crucial to gain a better understanding of the human reproductive process and optimise assisted reproduction techniques".
It has also been argued that animal studies are no substitute for human research, as every species has unique characteristics that distinguish it from all others, including the number of chromosomes in their cells.
"Humans have 46 chromosomes, whereas mice have 40, horses 64, and butterflies 380. Although comparison of the genomes of different species shows several fragments with 100% overlap, the differences are significant", add the two specialists.
According to Dr. Veiga and Dr. Boada, when women have been granted their wish to become mothers and there are leftover cryopreserved embryos, or when for reasons related to age, illness, marital separation etc. they no longer intend to use these embryos for their own procreation, donating embryos that are no longer needed for conception to science is usually preferred to destruction with no other purpose.
Third-party reproduction is another alternative, but it can often not be done when medico-legal donor criteria are not fulfilled, they clarify.