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France Eases Restrictions on Human Embryo Research

With embryonic stem cells in clinical trials in the U.S. and the U.K., France looks to keep up.

ScienceInsider reports that the French National Assembly approved a new law on Tuesday that could facilitate researchers’ ability to work with human embryos and embryonic stem cells.  

The existing law did allow French researchers to do some work with embryos, but was restrictive and required researchers to apply for permission to work with embryos; scientists had to show regulators that there was no other source of cells for their experiments and that the work could yield important medical discoveries. Proponents of the new law say the existing permit process enabled opponents of embryonic work to block research proposals; critics argue that the 190 approved applications between 2004 and 2012 demonstrate the old law was not a real hindrance, reports ScienceInsider.

An American company, Advanced Cell Technology, is currently testing retinal cells derived from human embryonic stem cells as a treatment for degenerative eye diseases in the U.S. and the U.K.

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