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About United Kingdom Policies & Human Biotechnology

The United Kingdom's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), established in 1991, is often considered a model for regulating and overseeing human biotechnologies. It licenses and monitors all research involving human embryos, and all facilities offering in vitro fertilization or storage of eggs, sperm, or embryos. UK law does not permit certain activities involving human embryos.

The HFEA's 21 members are appointed by UK Health Ministers; at least half of them are required to be neither doctors nor scientists involved in human embryo research or infertility treatment.

To grant a research license, the HFEA must be satisfied that the use of human embryos is "necessary or desirable" for an enumerated purpose. The HFEA inspects licensed clinics annually; produces a Code of Practice that guides clinics on proper conduct; keeps a formal registry for donors, treatments, and children born; and conducts public consultations on controversial applications.

[UK] Baby girl is first in the world to be treated with 'designer immune cells'by Ian SampleThe GuardianNovember 5th, 2015Genetically engineered cells were used to successfully treat an aggressive form of childhood leukaemia, though the experimental treatment had only been tested on mice.
'Modern twist' on fertility technique may offer hope for sterile menby Denis CampbellThe GuardianNovember 2nd, 2015Fourteen children have been born in a trial in Japan using immature sperm cells, injected into electrically stimulated eggs a method banned in the UK since the 1990s.
Would you take a genetic test that could lay bare your destiny?by Rowan HooperNew ScientistOctober 29th, 2015Plaques and Tangles, a play now at the Royal Court in London, takes on issues of personal genomics, carrier status testing, and Alzheimer's, asking: "Are we architects of our own destiny or prisoners of our genes?"
Gene Editing and Eugenics (Opinions Vary)by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 29th, 2015A recent commentary on the UK law allowing clinical use of mitochondrial replacement celebrates it as a benign form of eugenics. Is there such a thing?
NAS Human Gene Editing Meeting: Agenda & Public Participationby Paul KnoepflerThe NicheOctober 26th, 2015The National Academies have released a draft agenda for the upcoming summit on human gene editing.
[UK] Women "are being given false hope" over freezing eggsby Harriet MeyerThe GuardianOctober 24th, 2015Fertility experts say the UK agency that regulates fertility treatments is not doing enough to make clear the success rates of freezing and banking their eggs.
Feminists, get ready: pregnancy and abortion are about to be disruptedby Eleanor RobertsonThe GuardianOctober 12th, 2015A clinical trial of uterine transplants will begin soon in the UK. Are artificial wombs on the horizon?
First 'in womb' stem cell trial to beginby James GallagherBBCOctober 12th, 2015A UK clinical trial injecting fetal stem cells into babies still in the womb will attempt to lessen symptoms of an incurable brittle bone diseases.
UK Womb Transplants: 5 Ethical Issuesby Rachael RettnerLive ScienceOctober 5th, 2015The procedure would expose both patient and developing fetus to autoimmune suppressants, use uteruses from deceased donors, and require that clinical patients have a "long-term partner."
Womb transplants given UK go-aheadBBCSeptember 30th, 2015Ten women will be chosen for a clinical trial that will transplant a donated uterus, monitor organ acceptance for a year, and initiate up to two IVF pregnancies before removing the transplant.
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