Therapeutic cloning endorsed by Royal Society

The UK's Royal Society yesterday released a report backing continued research into the use of cloned embryonic stem cells.

By | November 8, 2000

The UK's Royal Society presented a report (Stem cell research and therapeutic cloning) to members of parliament on 7 November, backing continued research into the use of cloned embryonic stem cells to treat serious injuries and degenerative diseases. The technique, referred to as 'therapeutic cloning', would involve adding the nucleus of a patient's cell to an enucleated egg, and allowing development up to the embryonic stage. The resultant stem cells could then be tailored to treat the relevant disease or injury.

The research has already been approved by an expert group chaired by the Chief Medical Officer, and the UK government is now expected to offer members of parliament a free vote on the issue. Opposition from 'pro-life' groups is to be expected; some have argued that research has shown that adult cells could instead be 'reprogrammed' to behave like embryonic stem cells. The Royal Society report, however, suggests that even if this alternative method could eventually be used, it would require further research into therapeutic cloning, in order to understand the behaviour of stem cells and to perfect the technique.

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