Cdns support cloning to make stem cells: poll

CTV News Staff

A majority of Canadian approve of cloning human embryos for the purpose of collecting stem cells, a new poll found.

According to an Ipsos-Reid/CTV/Globe and Mail poll released Tuesday, six in 10 Canadians agree with cloning human embryos for the sole purpose of producing the so-called "master cells," which have the potential to be developed into various bodily tissues.

Four in 10 Canadians disapprove of cloning embryos for that purpose, the poll found.

In cases where cells are derived from unused extra human embryos that were created for the purpose of in-vitro fertilization, 76 per cent of Canadians approve of harvesting stem cells for research, so long as consent is obtained from the couple involved. Twenty-two per cent of Canadians disapprove.

The poll's findings are based on a survey of 1,000 randomly selected adult Ontarians, but are considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points for the entire Canadian adult population.

Younger Canadians are more likely to approve of both cases where the cells are obtained from cloned embryos and cases when they are harvested from embryos left over from fertility procedures.

Canadians in upper and middle-income households as well as those with a university degree or high school diploma are also more likely to approve than those from lower income homes or who did not finish high school.

Scientists say stem cell research has the potential to cure a slew of diseases, from Alzheimers to diabetes.

Seven months ago, in what is believed to be a medical first, a Montreal womansuffering from leukemia was injected with stem cells from her own daughter. Patrizia Durante was diagnosed six months into her pregnancy and doctors said she had six months to live.

Despite her illness, Durante delievered a healthy baby girl. Doctors saved the blood from her daughter's umbilical cord, which is rich in stem cells - which are able to regenerate a body's damaged blood supply.

Seven months after she received a transplant with those cells, Durante is in full remission, and likely cured.

Though Canada does not currently have legislation in place regulating stem cell research, a bill was introduced in Parliament last spring that would ban human cloning for any purpose. The legislation allows limited stem cell research using human embryos as long as the embryos are not grown and their stem cells harvested for the sole purpose of research.

In the U.S., President George Bush has allowed federal funding for limited research using stem cells derived from human embryos, but he has stipulated that the cells must be harvested from lines that were already in existence in Aug. 2001, in order to eliminate the incentive for destroying new embryos to harvest cells.