Therapeutic cloning will only succeed if scientists can source all the eggs they need to create cloned embryos. Since egg retrieval is uncomfortable, at best, and dangerous, at worst, few women are likely to volunteer. Nor is there a market in eggs, for in most countries selling eggs for research is banned. However there are alternatives. Rabbit or cow eggs are the solutions most often mentioned, but philosopher Heidi Mertes, of Ghent University in Belgium, has identified a few others in a recent issue of BioNews.
She says that “Depending on the kind of research, oocytes retrieved from surgically removed ovaries, cadavers, animals, aborted foetuses or even embryonic stem cells could be used.” As IVF clinics improve their ability to mature women’s eggs, the possibilities expand. Israeli researchers have already looked into the option of extracting egg follicles from aborted foetuses (BioEdge 82), leading to the possibility that a girl could become a mother without ever having been born.
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