May 25, 2024

Ban on embryo research survives challenge in Italy

Constitutional Court rules that embryos are too precious to be used in research.

Italy’s Constitutional Court has reaffirmed the legitimacy of a ban on human embryo research. In a decision late last month the Court declared that Article 13 of Law 40, a 2004 law on assisted reproduction, was constitutional. 

The legislation was challenged by a couple who had created several embryos in an IVF clinic. They requested that the defective ones be made available for genetic research, although this obviously clashed with Law 40.

Geneticist Bruno Dallapiccola, of the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, was scathing in his comments to the L’Avvenire newspaper:

“The embryo is not simply a mass of cells, but something more which deserves to be respected. The Constitutional Court’s ruling, by maintaining the ban on using frozen embryos for research, confirms this principle.”

He also expressed scepticism about the usefulness of human embryonic stem cells, in the wake of recent developments in stem cell research:

“We have not achieved the results that many hoped. The idea that research on embryonic stem is helpful in treating serious diseases today is, in my opinion, only a slogan that is not reflected in reality. While adult stem cells have led to tangible results which are transferable to clinical work, and while induced pluripotent cells have led to the creation of experimental models of diseases, embryonic stem cells have led nowhere.”
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