BMBF conference on "Human embryos in medical research: Taboo? - Justifiable? - Opportunity?"

10/23/2023   News

On October 9 and 10, 2023, the BMBF hosted the conference "Human embryos in medical research: Taboo? - Justifiable? - Opportunity?", which dealt with the challenging area regarding the use of human embryos in medical fields such as cell therapy, research on and with human embryonic stem cells and research on and with early human embryos from the ELSA ("Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects") perspective.

Flyer BMBF

At the conference, researchers from the research disciplines came together with representatives from politics, patient representatives, science administrators and interested members of the public to examine the topic in the context of current research.

The Federal Minister of Education and Research, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, opened the event and pointed out the great opportunities for the development of effective therapies for previously incurable diseases or for the treatment of widespread diseases such as diabetes, dementia, or heart attacks. In addition, German laws are no longer up to date and regulatory practice is a disadvantage for the German research landscape when it comes to collaborating with international partners.

In the discussion at the event, international representatives from the fields of medicine, biology, ethics, theology, and law brought the various specialist perspectives to bear. In addition to the traditional examination of the legal status of embryos, the situation and needs of patients were also discussed due to the increasingly practical relevance of research and the transition from basic research to application. In particular, the current legal situation in Germany means that those affected are at risk of being excluded from internationally available treatment options.

Working groups then dealt with the drafts of possible amendments to the law, which, in view of the changed framework conditions and now numerous inadequacies of the current legislation, presented a debate proposal for a contemporary reorganization of German embryo protection and stem cell legislation.