The Italian Constitutional Court has reconfirmed the legitimacy of the ban on human embryo research. In last month’s decision, the Court declared that Article 13 of Law 40, a 2004 law governing assisted procreation, was constitutional.

This legislation was contested by a couple who produced several embryos in an in-vitro fertilisation clinic. This couple requested that “defective embryos” be used for genetic research although this is prohibited by law 40.

Geneticist Bruno Dallapiccola from Bambino GesùHospitalcommented as follows on the decision: “An embryo is not simply a mass of cells but something that deserves to be respected. The decision of the Constitutional Court to uphold the ban on using frozen embryos for research, confirms this principle”.He also expressed his scepticism about using human embryo stem cells: “The results that many hoped for did not come to fruition.The idea that research into embryo stem cells is currently useful for the treatment of serious diseases is, in my opinion, only a slogan, which does not reflect reality. Whereas adult stem cells have led to tangible results which are transferable to clinical practice and induced pluripotent cells have resulted in the creation of disease experimental models, embryo stem cells have led nowhere”.