Ian c Ellul

Wherever I cast my glance I see roller coaster debates. From divorce to the mushrooming of gentleman’s clubs … from stewardship of natural water resources to IVF fertilisation … we have debates to suit all tastes reaching us through every possible channel, be it a traditional radio or an iphone application. At least these may provide a more intense aleniation than the usual fireworks or electoral debates in the village square!

The nature of this magazine quite rightly restricts my theme to IVF fertilisation. Notwithstanding the fact that I do not hold a PhD in neonatology,  I will still jut in a comment on this.  I will not delve in my strong opposition of the storage of embryos. I will only say that human nature being what it is, it tends to be quite Macciavellian in the fact that the ends quite often (but not quite rightly) justfy the means. Maybe having a multiple pregnancy through an IVF procedure may discourage couples to implant their ‘extra’ embryos which have been stored just in case. According to the draft IVF legislation currently being discussed this should not be problem. Why? Because these embryos are then offered for adoption. But if these are not adopted? I bet my bottom buck that they will share the same drain being used by other countries! Believe you me, this is what I envisage will happen. Never mind the lip services which we are being offerred.

And this reminds me of the other ongoing never-ending debate on pluripotency & stem cells? We have initially been shown a picture that pluripotency can only be achieved from embryonic stem cells. However time has shown quite the contrary with multipotency or better still pluripotency being demonstrated by a wide range of sources,  including the nose, umbilical cord, deciduous teeth and so on. And later on a major milestone was the research in induced pluripotent stem cells. And interestingly, to add to all this, only last November, research published in Nature News has demonstrated that scientists have managed to create adult blood progenitors directly from adult skin cells, skipping the induced pluripotent ‘embryonic’ stage. And since pluripotency is bypassed, the risk of them forming teratomas when implanted into patients is reduced. This is also considered to be a major breakthrough since when erythrocytes are created from pluripotent embryonic stem cells these do not make the adult form of haemoglobin (but the fetal form).