Advertisement

Egg harvesting for stem cell research: medical risks and ethical problems

      This paper is only available as a PDF. To read, Please Download here.

      Abstract

      Increasingly, researchers are seeking eggs from young women to be used for embryo cloning procedures. The harvesting of multiple eggs often involves the administration of drugs that have not been approved for this purpose. Also these drugs have not been adequately studied for their long-term effects on women despite research providing some evidence of significant harm to women in both the short and long term. Current practices follow a historical pattern of exposing women to risks that ultimately prove unacceptable. In addition, egg harvesting is taking place in a research climate marked by conflicts of interest, the misleading use of language to describe research goals, and a commercial push that may lead to the exploitation of young women. In this article, we outline these matters and explain how they are leading to an international campaign for a moratorium on egg harvesting for cloning purposes.

      Keywords

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      References

        • Ahuja KK
        Money, morals and medical risks: conflicting notions underlying the recruitment of egg donors.
        Human Reproduction. 1999; 14: 279-284
        • Ahuja KK
        • Simons EG
        • Nair S
        • et al.
        Minimizing risk in anonymous egg donation.
        Reproductive BioMedicine Online. 2003; 7: 504-505
        • Althuis MD
        • Moghissi KS
        • Westhoff CL
        • et al.
        Uterine cancer after use of clomiphene citrate to induce ovulation.
        American Journal of Epidemiology. 2005; 161: 607-615
        • American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)
        Patient's fact sheet: side effects of gonadotropins.
        ([accessed 31 July 2006].)
        • American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Practice Committee
        Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
        Fertility and Sterility. 2003; 80: 1309-1314
        • Andrews LB
        Genes and patent policy: rethinking intellectual property rights.
        Nature Reviews/Genetics. 2002; 3: 803-808
        • Bails J
        Pitt biologist trying to patent human cloning process. Pittsburg Tribute-Review. Jan. 7.
        ([accessed 31 July 2006].)
        • BBC News
        Safety of egg donation ‘unclear’.
        ([accessed 10 August 2006].)
        • Bhattacharya S
        Stupidity should be cured, says DNA discoverer. NewScientist.com News Service.
        ([accessed 10 August 2006].)
        • Brinton LA
        • Kamran S
        • Moghissi MD
        • et al.
        Ovulation induction and cancer risk.
        Fertility and Sterility. 2005; 83: 261-274
        • CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
        DES update: health care providers.
        ([accessed 31 July 2006].)
      1. Declaration of Geneva 1948 Adopted by the General Assembly of World Medical Association at Geneva Switzerland.
        ([accessed 31 July 2006].)
        • Delvigne A
        • Rozenberg S
        Epidemiology and prevention of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): a review.
        Human Reproduction Update. 2002; 8: 559-577
        • Dennis C
        Mining the secrets of the egg.
        Nature. 2006; 439: 652-655
        • Derek J
        Confessions of a Serial Egg Donor. Adrenaline Books, New York2004
      2. DES Action 2006 http://www.desaction.org [accessed 31 July 2006].

        • Hands Off Our Ovaries
        The hands off mission.
        ([accessed 31 July 2006].)
        • Hempel C
        Drowning in credit-card debt and student loans, young women are selling their eggs for big payoffs. But can they really make the right medical and moral decisions when they're tempted with $15,000? Boston Globe. June 25.
        ([accessed 31 July 2006].)
        • Heng BC
        Ethical issues in paying for the long-distance travel and accommodation expenses of oocyte donors.
        Reproductive BioMedicine Online. 2005; 11: 552-553
        • Hugues N
        Ovarian stimulation for assisted reproductive technologies.
        in: Vayena E Rowe PJ Griffin PD Current Practices and Controversies in Assisted Reproduction. World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland2002: 102-125
        • Hwang WS
        • Roh SI
        • Lee BC
        • et al.
        Patient-specific embryonic stem cells derived from human SCNT blastocysts.
        Science. 2005; 308: 1777-1783
        • Hwang WS
        • Ryu YJ
        • Park JH
        • et al.
        Evidence of a pluripotent embryonic stem cell line derived from a cloned blastocyst.
        Science. 2004; 303: 1669-1674
        • Hwa-young TK
        Ova donors demand compensation from government. Asia News 2–7.
        ([accessed 10 August 2006].)
        • International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)
        Guidelines for conduct of human embryonic stem cell research (draft 6–30–06).
        ([accessed 10 August 2006].)
        • Jensen D
        CIRM readying egg donor protections. California Stem Cell Report Jan. 1.
        ([accessed 31 July 2006].)
        • Kalfoglou AL
        • Gittelsohn J
        A qualitative follow-up study of women's experiences with oocyte donation.
        Human Reproduction. 2000; 15: 798-805
      3. Kim T 2006 ‘Schatten stole Hwang's patent’. Korea Times [accessed 8 January 2006].

        • Lancet
        Editorial: Eggs shared, given and sold.
        Lancet. 2003; 362: 413
      4. Lazar K 1999 Wonder drug for men alleged to cause harm in women. Boston Herald. [accessed 22 August 1999].

        • Magnus D
        • Cho MK
        Issues in oocyte donation for stem cell research. Science express.
        ([accessed 31 July 2006].)
        • Magureanu G
        Letter to European Parliament. June 30.
        ([accessed 14 August 2006].)
        • National Academies of Sciences
        Guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research. Committee on Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and National Research Council.
        ([accessed 31 July 2006].)
        • Ness RB
        • Cramer DW
        • Goodman MT
        Infertility, fertility drugs, and ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of case–control studies.
        American Journal of Epidemiology. 2002; 155: 217-224
        • Newman SA
        Averting the clone age: prospects and perils of human developmental manipulation.
        Journal of Contemporary Health Law and & Policy. 2003; ([accessed 10 August 2006].): 431-463
        • Norsigian J
        Stem cell research and embryo cloning: involving laypersons in the public debates.
        New England Law Review. 2005; 39: 527-534
        • Papadimos TJ
        • Papadimos AT
        The student and the ovum: the lack of autonomy and informed consent in trading genes for tuition.
        Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. 2004; 2: 56
        • Parisian S
        Open Letter.
        ([accessed 31 July 2006].)
        • Pearson H
        Health effects of egg donation may take decades to emerge.
        Nature Magazine. 2006; 442 ([accessed 10 August 2006].): 607-608
        • Reynolds J
        • Darnovsky M
        The California Stem Cell Program at One Year: A Progress Report. The Center for Genetics and Society, Oakland, CA2006
        • Rossing MA
        • Daling JR
        • Weiss NS
        • et al.
        Ovarian tumors in a cohort of infertile women.
        New England Journal of Medicine. 1994; 331: 771-776
        • Sexton S
        Transforming ‘waste’ into ‘resource': from women's eggs to economics for women. Paper presented at Femme Globale Conference.
        ([accessed 31 July 2006].)
        • Steigenga MJ
        • Helmerhorst FM
        • DE Koning J
        • et al.
        Evolutionary conserved structures as indicators of medical risk: increased incidence of cervical ribs after ovarian hyperstimulation in mice.
        Animal Biology. 2006; 56: 63-68
        • Steinbrook R
        Egg donation and human embryonic stem-cell research.
        New England Journal of Medicine. 2006; 354: 324-326
        • Snyder EY
        • Loring JF
        Beyond fraud — stem-cell research continues.
        New England Journal of Medicine. 2006; 354: 321-324
        • Spar D
        The Baby Business: How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception. Harvard Business School Press, Boston, USA2006
        • Tilghman S
        Address to the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. Presented at the Inaugural Symposium, the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, November 11 2004.
        ([accessed 31 July 2006].)
        • Whittemore AS
        • Harris R
        • Itnyre J
        • et al.
        Characteristics relating to ovarian cancer risk: collaborative analysis of 12 US case–control studies. II. Invasive epithelial ovarian cancers in white women.
        American Journal of Epidemiology. 1992; 136: 1184-1203
        • Women's Health Initiative Steering Committee
        Effects of conjugated equine estrogen in postmenopausal women with hysterectomy – the women's health initiative randomized controlled trial.
        Journal of the American Medical Association. 2004; 291: 1701-1712
        • World Medical Association
        International code of medical ethics of the World Medical Association – 1949.
        World Medical Association Bulletin. 1949; 1 ([accessed 31 July 2006].): 109-111
        • Writing Group for the Women's Health Initiative Investigators
        Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women, principal results from the Women's Health Initiative randomized controlled trial.
        Journal of the American Medical Association. 2002; 288: 321-333

      Biography

      Diane Beeson, Professor Emerita, Department of Sociology and Social Services, California State University, East Bay, received her PhD from the University of California, San Francisco. A former Pew Post-doctoral Fellow in Health Policy, she is now an affiliated scholar with the Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future, and a Co-founder of HandsOffOurOvaries. She has written numerous articles in professional journals and anthologies on prenatal diagnosis and social challenges of new reproductive technologies, and has served as a consultant for the NIH and diverse organizations on genetic testing.