This dossier aims to give an overview of the European embryo research framework. Stem cell research is one of the most promising areas of biotechnology, offering science the prospect of understanding cell differentiation and growth, of developing new methodologies to repair or replace damaged tissues or cells of the human body, and of understanding diseases development.
One of the possible sources for stem cells are human pre-implantation embryos. Pre-implantation embryos are embryos prior to implantation in the wall of the uterus, created through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) - that is the fertilization of an egg by a sperm outside the human body.
When a research involves the use of human embryos it raises ethical questions about limits and conditions for such research. Different countries have chosen to regulate embryonic stem cell research in very different ways.