New York considers paying women for eggs for stem cell research

Posted by Jesse Reynolds June 3, 2008
Biopolitical Times
Advertisement in the Washington Express, recruiting egg providers for Advanced Cell Technology (2006)

After the passage of a bill over a year ago, the New York state stem cell research program has been quietly gearing up. Despite minimal press coverage, NYSTEM's $600 million makes it the second largest such endeavor, after California's $3 billion-plus-interest undertaking. This week, it released its draft strategic plan [PDF], which is open for comments.

One aspect that caught my eye, not surprisingly, concerns the sourcing of fresh human eggs for cloning-based stem cell research (a.k.a. somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT). Although NYSTEM's brief authorizing law is silent on this and related issues, such matters have been deliberated by NYSTEM's Ethics Committee. The draft strategic plan reveals the Committee and the program's governing board are considering offering compensation for women to provide eggs. (pages 26-27)

This would be an unfortunate deviation to the generally agreed-upon practice of only reimbursing for expenses. I am aware of no ethics committee that has endorsed payments,* and of only one research team which offered them (and that was before the consensus against compensation crystallized in 2004). The good news is that there is still time for input: NYSTEM has not explored the issue in depth, and the Ethics Committee will discuss the topic at its next meeting.

HT to The Niche.

Previously on Biopolitical Times:

* The guidelines [PDF] of the International Society for Stem Cell Research do not explicitly endorse compensation for egg providers, but they do recognize that some areas may:

In locales where reimbursement for research participation is allowed, there must be a detailed and rigorous review to ensure that reimbursement of direct expenses or financial considerations of any kind do not constitute an undue inducement.