OTTAWA, December 5, 2003 ( – Dr. Francoise Baylis of Dalhousie University, has produced a report on the available ‘surplus’ human embryos in Canada that are ‘available’ for research.  She concludes that the human embryos available could produce between seven and 36 stem cell lines, which is not considered sufficient for embryonic stem cell research.  Baylis says the lack of human embryos for experimentation will fuel calls to allow human cloning, which will allow mass production of embryonic humans for experiments.  Dr Peter Hollands, Scientific Director of Cells for Life, an umbilical cord blood bank in Ontario, reacted to Baylis’ findings noting that the common sense answer to the dilemma would be to “focus our attention on umbilical cord blood and adult stem cells which are readily available, and in the case of umbilical cord blood, are being discarded on a daily basis.”

Dr. Hollands, who has himself worked with embryonic stem cells, agrees with Dr. Baylis’ finding that available embryos are not numerous enough to be useful for research. However, Dr. Hollands asks, “so why focus on a cell type which is virtually unavailable when umbilical cord blood stem cells are readily available?”  Rather, he suggests, resources should be devoted to “umbilical cord blood stem cells and to start routine storage of umbilical cord blood across the whole of Canada.”  Regarding her findings Baylis surmised, “Researchers would no doubt argue that the small number of embryos potentially available for stem cell research is impeding valuable research of potential therapeutic benefit to Canadians” and they would thus push for cloning.  However, Dr. Hollands argues that “Not collecting, storing and utilizing the full potential of umbilical cord blood stem cells is impeding the potential therapeutic benefit to Canadians.” He stressed that while there are currently no proven therapeutic treatments with embryonic stem cells, “umbilical cord blood stem cells are tried and tested. They have been used to treat over 3000 patients for 45 different diseases and the applications expand almost on a daily basis. We need to be collecting these priceless cells across the whole of Canada and indeed across the world.”  See the CTV coverage of Dr. Baylis’ study to be published Friday: