FIRST HUMAN CLONE TESTS A WEEK AWAY; Docs Get Go-Ahead for New Treatments

Article excerpt

Byline: By Judith Duffy

THE first human embryo could be cloned in Britain within a week.

Research chief Professor Alison Murdoch made the forecast yesterday after her team was given given permission to go ahead with the work for the first time.

It heralds a new era in medical research - and could lead to new treatments for conditions such as diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

But critics slammed the decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority as allowing 'Frankenstein science'.

They fear the technology may be abused to create cloned babies.

The research will be carried out by experts from Newcastle University.

But it could be at least five years before patients receive treatments based on their work.

Professor Murdoch, of the Newcastle NHS Fertility Centre, said: 'We're absolutely thrilled.

'We'll start as soon as we can get patients in who'll volunteer to give us their unfertilised eggs.

'The laboratories are set up and the people in place. We could be doing it within a week or two.'

Producing a live, cloned child is banned in Britain and throughout the developed world.

But therapeutic cloning for medical research - which helped produce Dolly the sheep - has been legal in Britain since 2001 under licence. It involves cloning embryos and harvesting stem cells from them which could be used to treat a wide range of diseases. …