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From Bio Journal - December 2009


Written explanation necessary for the production of reproductive cells from pluripotent cells

A meeting of the MEXT working group considering the pros and cons of the production of reproductive cells from pluripotent cells such as human iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells was held on 29 October 2009. (See BJ May 2009 and September 2009) At the meeting, the obtaining of informed consent (IC) from the cell donor was discussed. Agreement was reached on the policy of in future having the possibility that reproductive cells might be produced clearly stated on the IC explanation sheet when there is the intention that reproductive cells are to be produced.

The problem that has arisen is that of the research use of iPS cells that already exist. Up to now, the production of reproductive cells had not been foreseen and so that fact had not been explained to donors when obtaining IC. The secretariatfs proposal was that in the case where the donor is known then the IC should be re-obtained, and in the case where the donor is unknown then the approval for use of the cells should be obtained from the ethics committee of the institute concerned. Professor NAKAUCHI Hiromitsu of the Institute of Medical Science of the University of Tokyo stated that, gCells that are yet to be produced are epotential reproductive cells,f since if you are not going to try them out (through fertilization) you do not know if they will function as reproductive cells. Therefs no point in making this unnecessarily complicated,h to the end advocating a streamlining of procedures. Several working group members, however, expressed the need for caution concerning only the obtaining of approval from the intramural ethics committee for use of the cells, and in the end a decision was held over to a subsequent meeting.





Verdict in the ES cell paper fabrication case

Former professor HWANG U-seok (also spelt "Woo-suk") of Seoul University (ROK) (see BJ June 2008), accused of fabricating data concerning the claimed success of the production of ES cells from human somatic cell cloned embryos and misappropriating research funds, received a two-year sentence of imprisonment, suspended for three years, at Seoul District Court on 26 October 2009. The verdict statement said that even considering that the former professorfs activities were carried out for the purposes of scientific research, the flouting of legal limits constituted a serious transgression. (Yonhap News 2009/10/26)





Sales of the blue rose begin

Sales of the blue rose Applause, developed by Suntory using GM technology (see BJ November 2009, began on 3 November 2009 in the Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka regions of Japan. The rose was developed jointly by Suntory and the National Institute of Floricultural Science. Since roses can be reproduced from cuttings, it is possible that the GM variety may spread by simply being abandoned, and thus there are concerns for impacts on biodiversity.





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