Australia should relax its current ban on somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) and permit scientists to use the technique in stem cell research, a legislative review committee told the government today (December 19).

The recommendation has pleased stem cell researchers in the country who say it could improve Australia's global standing in what is still a hot research field.

"I think it is going to be very helpful," Hugh Niall, chief executive officer of the Australian Stem Cell Centre, told The Scientist. "The recommendation about SCNT would put Australian researchers on a par with researchers in the UK and elsewhere, and allow them to use a valuable research tool."

Bob Williamson, chair of the Australian Academy of Science's National Committee for Medicine, said he was particularly pleased that the committee recommended that SCNT only be permitted in the context of a strict prohibition on cloning for reproduction. "I...

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