Company Kills Couple’s "Leftover" Embryos for Personalized Stem Cell Cures

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 14, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Company Kills Couple’s "Leftover" Embryos for Personalized Stem Cell Cures

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 14,

San Francisco, CA ( — A California company is generating controversy for a new plan to work with fertility clinics that has it killing a couple’s "leftover" human embryos for "personalized" stem cell cures. The plan is drawing criticism from an unlikely source — embryonic stem cell research backers who say it is misleading clients.

StemLifeLine has entered new partnership agreements with three fertility clinics in Colorado, Nevada and Idaho.

According to a press release obtained, StemLifeLine "will now offer individuals who have undergone in vitro fertilization the opportunity to use StemLifeLine’s service to develop personal stem cell lines from their unused, stored embryos."

The company claims to be the first to offer to destroy a couple’s unborn children to provide them with potential cures for their diseases or conditions.

“We formed StemLifeLine in response to requests from IVF patients to apply their remaining stored embryos toward therapeutic applications that could one day help their children and family members,” Ana Krtolica, the company’s CEO, said in the statement.

Each clinic will provide eligible patients, faced with the decision of what to do with their remaining embryos, with information about StemLifeLine’s service. The company claims the personalized stem cell lines can help the clients cure "diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or diabetes."

But Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and a leading embryonic stem cell research promoter, called the company’s plan a "gimmick."

He told ABC News the company’s claims "rest on hot air" and questioned whether the company is misleading customers by promising miracle cures that may never materialize.

"In fact any clinic can do it, just like any clinic can freeze embryos. The problem is no one has made anything useful out of stem cells," he said.

Caplan also questioned claims that the stem cells obtained from the couple’s unborn children will help them any more than stem cells obtained from the destruction of other human embryos.

"It is still unclear if it matters where the embryos come from. Part of the promise of stem cells is that they can be taken from any embryo," he told ABC News.

The company claims that no human embryos will be created specifically with the intent of destroying them and that only "leftover" ones will be used.