Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wanted: Fresh Human Eggs

What is the going price for human eggs these days? It runs as much as $50,000. But there are still not enough eggs to fuel the stem cell research machine, according to two articles in the Los Angeles Times today.

Reporter Karen Kaplan wrote:
"While the world debates the morality of stem cell research, scientists are grappling with a more basic issue — a shortage of eggs that they say is crippling their work."
One example that Kaplan reported involved Advanced Cell Technology of Alameda, Ca. The company has used newspaper ads to recruit women, some of whom declined after learning they would not be compensated beyond expenses. Kaplan wrote:
"After 10 months, one woman has passed the physical and mental health exams. She was scheduled to begin the egg retrieval regimen last week and could have eight eggs ready to harvest in early October."
Reporter Lee Romney examined the California scene including legislation (SB1260) by Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, and the California stem cell agency.

Romney discussed the issue of possible exploitation of women egg donors, particularly low income, minority women. She also quoted Radhika Rao, of UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and a member of a state commission that crafted guidelines for stem cell research, as saying,
"If you pay women a lot and they're white, it isn't exploitation?"

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