Research involving human embryos has always been controversial. The regulatory framework governing embryo research in the UK reflects a political compromise -
allowing research but only under a licence granted by
Notwithstanding such controls, however, the use of
human embryos in research is still opposed by many.
Both applications for and awards of HFEA research
licences are scrutinised and sometimes contested by
those fundamentally opposed to embryo research.
This has sometimes led to a precautionary approach
on the part of the regulator, reflected in a reluctance to
grant licences in novel and contentious areas, though
recent changes in the law have helped to clarify the
HFEA’s remit in this area.
We advise universities, companies and IVF clinics in relation to applications for HFEA research licences, HFEA licence committee procedures, regulatory investigations and litigation relating to research. We have been involved in most of the leading cases relating to embryo research.