UCC approves use of embryonic stem cells by single vote

By Michelle McDonagh

Wednesday October 29 2008

UCC has become the first university in the country to officially sanction the controversial use of embryonic stem cells for research.

By a single vote, UCC's 40-strong governing body decided to allow embryonic stem cell research to be carried out under strict guidelines drawn up by the University Research Ethics Board (UREB).

The vote was 16 to 15 in favour, with nine abstentions.

Researchers believe stem cells have enormous potential in the treatment of major illnesses such as cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer's and Parkinsons disease; and adult stem cells are already being used in a number of Irish research programmes.

However, UCC is the first university to approve the use of the more controversial embryonic stem cells.

A spokeswoman for UCC said yesterday that the code of practice for research using human embryonic stem cell line (hESC) was approved by the Academic Council recently and referred on to the governing body for its consideration.