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THE US GOVERNMENT is being urged to fund research into the beginnings of human life. A panel convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Md, has recommended that carefully guided investigations into the fertilized human embryo can be justified and are worth federal support.
Properly designed studies could enlarge scientific knowledge in a variety of reproductive areas, including infertility, genetic diseases, contraception, and cancer, the panel concludes. Research would be limited to embryos 14 days or less from first cell division. At this point, the embryo develops the so-called primitive streak, a faint white trace at the caudal end of the embryonic disk that provides the earliest evidence of the embryonic axis, or spatial orientation.
The panel's report is a milestone. It brings the United States into line with other countries that have addressed the issue of human embryo research in one way or another, rather than simply
Marwick C. NIH Panel Finds Embryo Research Justifiable, Recommends Support. JAMA. 1994;272(17):1311-1312. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520170021006