MINISTERS BAN HUMAN CLONING; They Slam the Door on Medical Research

By McLEAN, Jim | Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), June 25, 1999 | Go to article overview

MINISTERS BAN HUMAN CLONING; They Slam the Door on Medical Research


McLEAN, Jim, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)


MINISTERS yesterday slapped a ban on human cloning for medical research.

Scientific experts had advised them that the cloning of human embryos could provide breakthroughs in a range of incurable illnesses.

But the Government said more time was needed to look at the scientific and ethical implications of such research.

Their decision was applauded by pro-life groups. But leading scientists were bewildered.

Simon Best, of Geron Bio-Med, a spin-off company formed after the cloning of Dolly the sheep at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, said: "This work has the potential to provide completely new treatments for a wide range of diseases for which no remedy exists at present.

"Research groups in this country will be stuck, and there is a real risk that Britain is going to be left behind. "

Embryos in the first days of development contain stem cells that can transform themselves into all the different tissues in the human body.

Scientists hoped to extract stem cells from embryos less than 14 days old and use them to grow replacement muscle, nerves, skin, bone and organ tissue, which can be implanted without rejection.

The research could lead to revolutionary new treatments for a host of illnesses, including Parkinson's disease, diabetes and arthritis.

Scientists had got as far as getting stem cells from mice to differentiate into heart and brain tissue. But for the research to progress, human cells would be needed - and that would require clone embryos.

In December, experts from two advisory bodies, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Genetics Advisory Commission recommended that the law should allow human cloning for medical research. …

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