After months of delay and often bitter public debate, Australia's Senate yesterday (December 5) passed legislation regulating embryonic stem (ES) cell research 45 votes to 26, along with a separate bill to ban human cloning. The legislation allows scientists to work with existing ES cell lines and to create new lines from surplus in vitro fertilization embryos created before April 5, 2002. It also signals an end to a patchwork of state and territory rules.

"We're very pleased that this bill has finally passed," said Martin Pera, a cell biologist with Monash University and Chief Science Officer of Australia's new national Centre for Stem Cells and Tissue Repair (CSCTR), to be headquartered in Melbourne. "It's a good piece of legislation and will allow stem cell research to go forward on a sound ethical basis."

Next week the House of Representatives will ratify minor changes made by the Senate to the...

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