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Australia mulls stem cell law

Researchers are still waiting for clear legislation.

Leigh Dayton(leighdayton@ozemail.com.au)

Australia's long-running debate over embryonic stem cell research just got longer. Researchers must now likely wait until at least December for clear national guidelines, as the Senate on 21 August sent the 'Research Involving Embryos and Prohibition of Human Cloning' bill to a committee for further review.

The move leaves frustrated scientists to muddle along with a patchwork of often conflicting state and territory laws, which the proposed legislation seeks to harmonize. Three of the country's six state premiers are promising appropriate legislation should the federal bill fail.

The delay also slows development of the US$25 million Centre for Stem Cells and Tissue Repair. The center, announced last June by Prime Minister John Howard, is a collaboration of roughly 300 scientists from a dozen institutions, headquartered at Monash University in Melbourne.

"We need the endorsement [of national legislation] to allow the work to go forward," said cell biologist Martin...

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