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THE DEBATE over one of medicine's most contentious issues—human embryo research—is beginning in earnest.
Public and private groups are convening this month to lay the groundwork for future policy recommendations on how research should proceed and the types of clinical applications that may be considered appropriate.
Much of the debate has been carried on for years in medical, scientific, and lay media quarters. But the newest round has been fueled by intense media speculation and ethical concerns surrounding laboratory research in duplicating polyploid embryos. It also is distinguished by a novel federal presence.
"This is the first time the subject is being approached at the federal government level," says Duane Alexander, MD, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Md. "We're years behind."
Making Up for Lost Time
Federally sponsored research on in vitro fertilization (IVF) has been held in abeyance since 1980. Regulations in
Voelker R. A Clone by Any Other Name Is Still an Ethical Concern. JAMA. 1994;271(5):331-332. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510290013004